The Impact of Stepfamily Adjustment on Adult Attachment: A Comparison of American Indians and Whites


American India, Native American, stepfamily, attachment, emerging adults


One-third of American children will spend time in a stepfamily. Stepfamily formation is often accompanied by heightened amounts of stress. This study examined the effects of stress on attachment for American Indian and White emerging adults who spent time in stepfamilies. Participants of the STEP study were between the ages of 18 and 30 and spent at least one year in a stepfamily before the age of 18. Ordinary Least Square regressions were run to identify correlations and relationships. Interactions were examined between race and stress to identify the moderating effects that race had on attachment outcomes. Results indicated that an individual’s level of education, gender and race all impacted their emerging adult attachment outcomes. American Indians had higher overall attachment outcomes than Whites. However, the impacts of stress on attachment did not differ by race. Implications of these findings are also discussed.

Original Publication Citation

Willis, B., & Limb, G. (2017). The impact of stepfamily adjustment on adult attachment: A comparison of American Indians and Whites. Journal of Indigenous Social Development, 5(2), 1-19.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Indigenous Social Development




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Social Work

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor