Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


School of Psychology


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Supervisor

Dr Greg Dear


Orford's (2001) notion that a strong emotional attachment to an object (drug) or activity (gambling) is a central component of addiction has received little empirical attention. The published research on attachment to inanimate objects was reviewed and led to the following conclusions. First, attachment theory has been validly applied to people's relationships with inanimate objects. Second, researchers have developed technologies (e.g., psychological measures, operational definitions) to enable empirical research in this area. Third, this research is in its early phases, but has produced reliable standardised measures of people's emotional attachment to brands. Further research is needed to operationalise Orford's (2001) concept of strong attachment to a drug or addictive activity, although the progress on brand attachment and place attachment provides researchers with a framework for undertaking such research. Within Orford's (200 1) model of addiction, a person's emotional attachment to a substance (drug) or activity (e.g., gambling) is considered a central aspect of developing an addiction to that substance or activity. The aim of this study was to determine how emotional attachment to a substance manifests behaviourally, cognitively, and emotionally so that an operational definition of emotional attachment can be constructed. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and analysed using Creswell's (2003) thematic content analysis. The 23 cognitive and emotional themes that were detected appear to be central to defining attachment to a substance, whereas the 16 behavioural manifestations are difficult to distinguish from standard indicators of dependence. Consequently, a measure of attachment to a substance should focus on the emotional and cognitive aspects in order that it not be confounded with measures of dependence.