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Non-Attachment to Education: Pros and Cons Report

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Updated: Jul 10th, 2021

The attachment theory has been a topic of interest for the Western psychologists. The connection to the Buddhist practices was not studied until recently. The two ideas provide an implication for understanding the mental fixation and individuals’ happiness or outcomes of certain activities. However, no research was conducted studying the relationship between non-attachment and education that would help understand the correlation between one’s thoughts regarding studies and academic success. This paper aims to provide background information about the concept of attachment and non-attachment and develop a scale to measure the connection of these notions to education.

Background information about the attachment involves several essential studies on this topic. It should be noted that the concept of attachment and non-attachment are connected to the Buddhist theory that depicts the lack of rigid perceptions of a person’s self and others. According to Sahdra and Shaver (2013), the basis for the attachment theory is a claim that a person’s feeling of security is connected to the “mental representations of a self that has been reliably loved and cared for in close relationships” (p. 282). The authors cite supportive relationships and relaxation as standard features of the two concepts, Buddhist and psychological. Mental fixations that a person can have to predict his or her attitudes towards things or events and can be harmful, while the release from this construct can be beneficial for an individual. Thus, the concept of non-attachment refers to the ability to let go of things.

The rationale for developing this measurement framework is connected to a need for evaluating the perception of students of their educational activity and outcomes of it. It is crucial to compare the non-attachment concept to education. In an article by Dwek, Chiu, and Hong (1985) the researchers examine the topic of judgment and reaction. They hypothesize that the perception that people have about specific attributes of humans affect their understanding and responses, which is demonstrated through the example of fixed and dynamic trait-related beliefs. Dwek et al. (1985) examined the relationship between these attitudes in the context of studying and the outcomes of it and provided support for the implications that mental fixations and their impact on grades and test scores. This study highlights the connection between attachment and education because, in essence, it shows the correlation between fixed believes of individuals about their capabilities and results of educational assessments. People who are not attached to their image as intelligent or non-intelligent individuals have a higher chance of achieving success.

Thoughts about withdrawing from study scale that measures whether people considered this idea in the last twelve month using a range from 1 that indicates never and 10, which is often is used for testing the concurrent validity. The relationship between these thoughts and non-attachment can help identify the relationship between fixations and negative perceptions and study results. Additionally, the framework used in this paper for developing the measurement scale includes approach used by Whitehead, Bates, Elphinstone, Yang and Murray (2018) in their non-attachment to self-scale. In addition, factors such as adaptability and procrastination as factors that impact the thoughts and perceptions of individuals.

Literature Review

It is worthwhile to create this measure because it allows understanding the impact of mindfulness and unhelpful thought on non-attachment to education and outcomes of studies. Sandra, Ciarrochi, and Parke (2016) state that the concept of non-attachment can be defined as “flexible, balanced way of relating to one’s experiences without clinging to or suppressing them” (p. 819). In essence, considering the focus on academic achievements, one can argue that this results in an ability to disregards both positive and negative effects of education such as test scores or grades and proceed with gaining knowledge regardless of this elements.

The correlation between the factors described in this paper with non-attachment will suggest that students who demonstrate less mental fixation on their studies perform better in tests and can receive better grades when compared to those who are attached to their studies. Issues associated with existing measures include the fact that research specifically focuses on education and its outcomes in correlation with non-attachment, which would provide implications for improving student’s attitudes and perception of academic success or failure.

The literature on the topic focuses mainly on the connection of the Western and Buddhist approaches to attachment and strategies, for instance, meditation or mindfulness, that help develop non-attachment. As was mentioned, Dwek et al. (1985) provide implications for connecting the concept in question to education and developing a scale that will help measure it. The work of these authors helps to understand the connection between fixed and dynamic thoughts connected to academic performance and results of studies that provide implications for further examination.

As was previously mentioned attachment is an essential psychological construct that determines the attitudes of people and the outcomes of their actions. Chio (2017) et al. argue that due to the fact that most circumstances around people change constantly, the ability to distance oneself from these occurrences is critical for mental well-being. Therefore, understanding the issues connected to mental fixations and their impact on individuals is vital. Sahdra et al. (2016) argue that non-attachment has a significant connection to mindfulness and its five facets. The practice of being aware and present at the moment has a substantial impact on the ability to set and achieve goals, although in their study the authors state that non-attachment can have a similar implication. Although further longitude studies are required to determine the specific connection between attachment and mindfulness, it can be concluded that both concepts have a positive impact on the psychological well-being of people.

Therefore, the constructs that should be measured are a person’s attitudes towards studies, their personality traits such as extraversion that helps ensure that attachment attitudes are subjected to alteration are not connected to specific characteristics. Additional factors such as procrastination during studies and ability to adapt to new circumstances will help understand the context of the problem better. Next, it is crucial to ensure that the hypothesis developed for this scale has sufficient validity, which will help understand whether the correlation between different measures, in fact, indicates a relationship between non-attachment and education.

  • It was hypothesized that a factor analysis of the new attachment would result in unidimensional factor (adaptability), as described by Martin, Nejad, Colmar, and Liem (2012).
  • It was hypothesized that convergent validity would be demonstrated via a positive relationship between high non-attachment to education and measure of letting go of unhelpful thought about oneself, based on the model by Whitehead et al. (2018).
  • The additional hypothesis regarding convergent validity is that there is a negative correlation between procrastination and non-attachment to education, based on the study by Solomon and Rothblum (1984).
  • It is hypothesized that discriminate validity would be evident by finding no significant relationship between non-attachment to education and extraversion, described as one of the five personality domains developed by (Gosling, Rentfrow, & Swann, 2003).
  • It was hypothesized that criterion-related validity would be demonstrated by finding a significant relationship between educational non-attachment scale and thoughts about withdrawing from a study.


Chio, F. H. N., Lai, M. H. C., & Mak, W. W. S. (2017). Development of the nonattachment scale-short form (NAS-SF) using item response theory. Mindfulness, 9(4), 1299–1308. Web.

Dweck, C. S., Chiu, C-y., & Hong, Y-y. (1985). Implicit theories and their role in judgments and reactions: A world from two perspectives. Psychological Inquiry, 6(4), 267-285. Web.

Gosling, S., Rentfrow, P., & Swann, W. (2003). A very brief measure of the Big-Five personality domains. Journal of Research in Personality, 37(6), 504-528. Web.

Martin, A. J., Nejad, H., Colmar, S., & Liem, G. A. D. (2012). Adaptability: Conceptual and empirical perspectives on responses to change, novelty and uncertainty. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 22(1), 58-81. Web.

Sahdra, B., Ciarrochi, J., & Parker, P. (2016). Nonattachment and mindfulness: Related but distinct constructs. Psychological Assessment, 28(7), 819–829. Web.

Sahdra, B. & Shaver, P. (2013). Comparing attachment theory and Buddhist psychology. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 23(4), 282-293. Web.

Solomon, L. J., & Rothblum, E. D. (1984). Academic procrastination: Frequency and cognitive-behavioral correlates. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 31(4), 503-509. Web.

Whitehead, R., Bates, G., Elphinstone, B., Yang, Y., & Murray, G. (2018). Letting go of self: The creation of the nonattachment to self scale. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 2544. Web.

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