The Influence of Family Functioning on Identity Formation: a Model of Late Adolescent Identity Development
Description: The influence of theoretically prominent family processes on late adolescent college student identity development was the focus of this study. The primary purpose was to test a model of adolescent identity development. This model proposed that family health variables would predict identity development, and that attachment and separation-individuation would each make unique and additive contributions to identity development. The second purpose was to identify instruments which discretely measured the family processes. The third purpose was to better understand family influences by measuring the processes of exploration and commitment. Participants were 150 male and 150 female college students, between the ages of 18 and 23, and from intact families. Questionnaires completed measured family functioning and identity development. Family functioning measures covered three domains (family health, attachment to parents, and separation-individuation) which formed the set of independent variables. The identity measures (ego identity status and identity process) comprised the dependent variables. A hierarchical regression design was employed where family health variables were entered first, followed by attachment variables, then separation-individuation variables. The results indicated mixed support of the model. First, the proposed model was statistically supported for females as all domains predicted identity achievement and diffusion. For males, only family health predicted identity achievement, and only separation-individuation predicted identity diffusion. Other important findings were that the attachment and separation-individuation domains both assessed forms of connectedness, suggesting only one domain. Thus, the separation-individuation component of the model was not supported. Second, similarity of attitudes consistently predicted identity achievement, diffusion, exploration, and commitment. Third, despite the use of rigorous criteria to obtain discrete scales representative of the theoretical constructs, overlap was discovered within and across domains. The roles of similarity of attitudes between adolescent and parent, and the family environments associated with identity achievement, diffusion, exploration, and commitment are discussed. In addition, methodological and ...
Date: August 1996
Creator: George, David T. (David Titus)