Doctoral student completed dissertation on attachment security and leadership

Gina Rossitto studied how different attachment security levels correlate with increased transformational leadership

| Author: Ellie Heron | Media Contact:

Gina Rossitto completed her industrial organizational psychology doctoral dissertation on attachment security’s association with transformational leadership, or how leaders form motivating engaging relationships with their followers. Attachment security develops from child-caregiver relationships in early childhood, goes on to impact the way that people form relationships with others into adulthood. While this variable isn’t usually studied within industrial organizational psychology, Rossitto wanted to see if there was a correlation between the level of attachment security a person developed as a child and the leadership styles and behaviors they demonstrate as an adult.  

Rossitto’s study looked into not only attachment security and transformational leadership, but also mindfulness, emotional intelligence, core self-evaluations, insight and attentional control. She surveyed more than 150 leaders and found several significant relationships between the variables. Overall, it was determined that there is a correlation between attachment security and transformational leadership, so lower levels of attachment security correlated with lower levels of transformational leadership. The relationships found support the idea that attachment security could promote transformational leadership through insight, emotional intelligence, and mindful awareness.  

This research presents a preliminary model connecting attachment security and transformational leadership, providing a foundation for future research on the connections between these variables. Rossitto hopes to expand on this study in the future and is “excited about these findings and where it might lead," as this research is some of the first to promote the relevance of studying attachment theory in an industrial organizational psychology setting instead of solely within a developmental psychology setting.  

“I’m really passionate about attachment security – how we learn to relate with others in early childhood and how this impacts our future relationships, including those between a leader and their followers – and I’m equally passionate about leadership,” says Rossitto, “So the fact that those two things were in one and that there is robust support for attachment security and transformational leadership being related is quite exciting.” 

This story is brought to you by the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

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