Parental attachment, interparental conflict, and late adolescents' emotional adjustment: The associations with social functioning

Jennifer Ross, Fordham University

Abstract

The purpose of he study was to extend a previously examined model of emotional adjustment, which suggested that middle adolescents' perceptions of their social skills and relational competence partially mediated the relationship between parental attachment and subsequent emotional adjustment. The present study examined two research questions. First, the initial model is extended to account for a late adolescent (18- to 22-years-old) sample. Secondly, the present study extends Engels et al.'s (2001) model of emotional adjustment to account for interparental conflict and conflict resolution behavior in late adolescents. The overall model examined if social skills, conflict resolution behavior, and relational competence mediate the relationship between interparental conflict and parental attachment security, and late adolescents' subsequent emotional adjustment. ^ Participants included 295 undergraduate students, ages 18 to 22. These students were asked to complete a demographic questionnaire and six questionnaires via the Internet. ^ The structural equation model hypothesized an inverse relationship between parental attachment and interparental conflict, with attachment to parents predicting better social functioning and emotional adjustment and interparental conflict predicting less adaptive social functioning and emotional adjustment. The hypotheses were partially supported The results indicated that parental attachment is better conceived as a two-factor construct of mother and father attachment. The findings also indicated that although attachment to both mothers and fathers directly predicts emotional adjustment, the mechanisms that mediate these relationships differ. Attachment to fathers was found to be predictive of better social skills, which in turn promoted greater relational competence, and subsequent better emotional adjustment. Attachment to mothers was found to be predictive of better conflict resolution behavior, which in turn promoted greater relational competence, and subsequent better emotional adjustment. Although attachment to parents and interparental conflict were inversely related, interparental conflict was not a significant predictor of social functioning or emotional adjustment within the present model. ^ The present results highlight the ongoing relevance of attachment to parents, at least through late adolescence. This study also indicates a need for future research differentiating the role that mothers and fathers play within their late adolescents' social and emotional development. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

Jennifer Ross, "Parental attachment, interparental conflict, and late adolescents' emotional adjustment: The associations with social functioning" (January 1, 2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI3302117.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3302117

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