Description: The influence of parental marital status and parental conflict on the separation-individuation process of college students was investigated in the present study. Past studies have suggested that parental divorce and parental conflict accelerate separation. However, no studies have measured more than one dimension of separation-individuation. In this study the process of separation-individuation was operationalized as involving three dimensions: psychological separation from parents (Psychological Separation Inventory); emotional attachments to parents and peers (Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment); and the development of an identity (Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status). The sample consisted of 120 male and 120 female undergraduates between the ages of 18 and 22, one-half with parents who were married and one-half with parents who had divorced in the last five years. Subjects completed self-report measures of parental conflict, psychological separation, attachment to parents and to peers, and identity status. Predictions that parental conflict would affect students in intact families differently than their peers with divorced parents were not supported. Instead, parental divorce and conflict were found to have different effects on the components of the separation-individuation process. Subjects reporting higher parental conflict levels described more independent functioning, more negative feelings toward parents, less attachment to parents and to peers, and greater exploration of identity-related issues in comparison to those reporting low levels of conflict. Subjects with parents who had recently divorced reported lower attachment to parents, and greater identity exploration and reluctance to commit to an identity than subjects from intact families. Males reported greater independence from and less attachment to parents, and had committed to an identity without exploration less often than females. Results suggest that parental divorce and conflict may influence adolescent development in different ways. Exploratory analyses suggested that measures of conflict style are more highly related to indices of separation-individuation than measures ...
Date: August 1993
Creator: Marsh, Greg (Gregory Gene)
Partner: UNT Libraries