RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DIVORCE, MARITAL CONFLICT, AND PREADOLESCENTS' SOCIAL PROBLEM SOLVING

DEBORAH S VERLEN, Fordham University

Abstract

The number of divorces at all socioeconomic levels has increased dramatically over the last decade. Along with this rise, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of children involved in divorce actions. This is of concern because, according to the transmission effect of marital instability, there is an increased probability for children from divorced backgrounds to themselves divorce as adults.^ Although researchers have attempted to explain the transmission of divorce within the context of various social-psychological theories, none have satisfactorily accounted for this phenomenon. The present study proposed an alternative explanation which drew upon the possible influence of interactive patterns present in divorcing families on youngsters' developing social problem-solving skills. Specifically, the relationship between the upheaval associated with divorce, levels of marital conflict in divorcing homes, and preadolescents' social problem-solving skills were investigated.^ Participants included 44 fifth and sixth graders attending middle-class public schools. Youngsters' alternative solutions and means-ends thinking skills were evaluated using The Children's Interpersonal Problem Solving Test and The Children's Means-Ends Problem Solving Test, respectively. Amounts of marital conflict in the home were assessed by having subjects' mothers complete the Marital Conflict Questionnaire, an instrument designed for this study.^ Results of analyses of variance suggest that problem-solving responses of preadolescents from divorced homes, when compared with problem-solving responses of preadolescents from intact homes, have a slightly higher proportion of passive, ineffective ways of solving social problems. In addition, girls from divorced families, as opposed to youngsters in any other group, appear to be slightly less able to generate related ideas to reach specific objectives when problematic situations arise. Relating these findings to the transmission effect of marital instability, one may hypothesize that adults who experience their parents' divorce when they are preadolescent may display some weaknesses in their social problem-solving skills which may, in turn, restrict their ability to engage in joint problem solving as a spouse. The accumulation of unresolved family or marital issues may then increase both marital conflict and the probability of divorce. ^

Subject Area

Social psychology

Recommended Citation

VERLEN, DEBORAH S, "RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DIVORCE, MARITAL CONFLICT, AND PREADOLESCENTS' SOCIAL PROBLEM SOLVING" (1985). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8508133.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8508133

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