Relationship of Personality Traits and the Continued Use of Childhood Comfort Objects by College Students
Bachelor of Arts
Bill Phillips, PhD
Ian Madfes, PhD
The continued use of a childhood comfort object (CO) during adult years was examined among college students. It was hypothesized that students who took their CO to school would have more difficulty adapting to change and adjusting to experiences of loss than those who did not. A total of 149 participants (111 females and 38 males) completed an anonymous online survey that evaluated the history of CO use and measurements of adaptability, reactions to loss, and comfort levels still obtained from objects. Of these participants, 100 had continued contact with a CO, and 58 had taken it with them to college. Although results indicated no significant relationships between continued object use and adaptability, those who took their COs to college reported slightly more difficulty adjusting to experiences of loss. Generally, those who did not keep an object from childhood were better able to adapt to change than those who did, regardless of whether they took the object to college. It was concluded that the continued use of COs into adulthood is prevalent, suggesting that they continue to be an effective tool in coping with stressors such as change and loss. The adult use of a CO might not reflect emotional disturbance or psychopathology but rather the utilization of healthy coping mechanisms.