Social media is a pervasive part of the world in which we live. One of the most controversial areas in psychology involves whether social media is beneficial or harmful to the psyche. The strength of the social bonds formed online as opposed to face-to-face friendships. Attachment refers to the dynamics between two individuals. It is measures by the quality of the relationship, the emotions felt, and a feeling of loss when that person is not in one’s life anymore. The proposed measure will examine the facets and strength of adult attachment among friends who met online but that have never met in person.
Attachment as a Construct
Loneliness has been cited as a main reason why people go online to seek companionship (Lasala, Galigao, and Besquecosa, pp. 83). The question is whether this type of relationship is as fulfilling as one that involves physical contact. Attachment among adults can be divided into different dimensions that describe the feelings of adult relationships. These feelings range in a continuum of opposite pairs. For example the relationship can be described as high anxiety vs. low anxiety, secure vs. fearful/avoidant, dismissing-avoidant vs. preoccupied, or low avoidance vs. high avoidance (Shaver and Fraley). Attachment is measured according to these dimensions in the relationship. In the online world, there is not actual physical contact or body language, so the degree, frequency, quality and type of interaction will be taken into consideration as means to measure this construct.
This test will be norm referenced, as it will compare a number of different facets in broad area of aspects related to adult attachment. It will also compare various levels of loneliness in individuals to norm within the group. The attachment and the level of loneliness will be ranked in comparison to the other subjects. This test will be used for adults aged 35-55 who use social media. It will examine their level of loneliness in relation to the quality of their online interactions.
Domain sampling would be used to find potential test questions and items. The domains would include questions on both online and face to face relationships. It would also include questions and on loneliness and online habits. The questions would be a Likert Scale that asked the respondents to rank their feelings on a scale. Preliminary items for the test would include an equal number of questions that addresses each of the domains mentioned.
Systematic errors, such as questions that are unambiguous will be avoided by conducting a pilot study where respondents will be asked to rate the test itself on a variety of items. This will also help to reduce administrative errors. Scoring errors will be eliminated by the use of a Likert scale. The answers are straight forward from an interpretive standpoint, rather than ambiguous, such as an open ended question. Environmental factors will be avoided by allowing the respondent to take the test online in the comfort of their own home. Test taker factors will be avoided by having the person take the test online. Reliability will be established through conducting the test on several differ sample groups and comparing the results. Validity will be established by asking respondents to provide feedback on the test.
In conclusion, the test scale to be developed will explore the relationship between perceived loneliness and the quality of attachment in online only relationships. It will be a Likert scale that will ask the respondents to rank items in the area of attachment and loneliness in the online world. It will avoid sampling errors through the use of an online survey and through the use of testing on various groups. This test will help to determine the quality of online relationships and their ability to form bonds.
- Lasala, Charita, Galigao, Regina, and Bequecosa. “Psychological impact of Social Networking Sites: A Psychological Theory.” UV Journal of Research. 2013. pp. 81-86.
- Shaver, Phillip and Fraley, R. Chris. “Self-Report Measures of Adult Attachment.” 1997. Web. 12 December 2014.