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- Healthy and harmful adolescent attachment, conflict, and anger
- Pearson, Kaileen L.
- The major focus of this study was to investigate the association between adolescent attachment styles and types of parent-adolescent conflict and anger. The study used adolescent respondents (n=214, females=136, males=78), 95% of whom were aged 14 or 15. The methodology was a one-off survey design. An adapted adult attachment scale with two dimensions, anxiety and avoidance, measured attachment. This scale was used to form four adolescent attachment styles, secure, preoccupied, fearful and dismissive. Family conflict was assessed in a range of ways, including general measures of self-reported family conflict and abuse at home. Also measured were general anger-proneness and depression-proneness. As well, adolescents responded to four specific, hypothetical parent-adolescent conflict scenarios. The responses to these vignettes included their reported emotions, conflict resolution strategies, expected endings and post-conflict coping/risk behaviours. Results indicated the presence of one major healthy and functional conflict-anger pattern associated with a secure attachment style, and two major types of harmful and dysfunctional conflict-anger patterns. Healthy conflict and anger involved secure adolescents reporting they would experience negative emotions in conflict but would still expect the conflict to be resolved well for everyone. Secure adolescents were also less anger-prone and depression-prone generally than other adolescents, possibly indicating their ability to regulate their negative emotions. The first harmful conflict pattern, associated with preoccupied and fearful attachment styles, included relatively higher levels of family conflict involving poor conflict endings, and even moderate levels of violence. Preoccupied and fearful adolescents may have poor emotional regulation, as indicated by their higher levels of general anger-proneness and depression-proneness. The second harmful conflict-anger pattern was associated with a dismissive attachment style and involved conflict with emotional distance and coolness in the family, as well as lower levels of reported problem solving strategies and good conflict endings. Results are discussed in terms of adolescent attachment style profiles and the need to distinguish and assess attachment styles in families in order to devise appropriate and effective interventions. Examples of primary, secondary and tertiary preventative interventions are described to assist mildly to severely conflicted, distressed or disengaged families.
- Publication type
- Thesis (DPsych)
- Publication year
- Adolescent psychology; Attachment behaviour in adolescence; Conflict in adolescence; Parents; Psychology; Teenagers
- Australasian Digital Theses collection
- Copyright © 2005 Kaileen L. Pearson.
- Thesis Supervisor
- [Roslyn Galligan]
- Thesis Note
- [Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Psychology (Counselling Psychology), Swinburne University of Technology, 2005.]
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