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Understanding the relation among stressful life events, attachment and adjustment in adolescence


Understanding the relation among stressful life events, attachment and adjustment in adolescence

Dudeck, Marcie Rochelle (2007) Understanding the relation among stressful life events, attachment and adjustment in adolescence. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Previous research has established that stressful life events are strongly linked with negative adjustment indices in adolescence (e.g., Compas & Phares, 1991; Kim, Conger, Elder, & Lorenz, 2003; Waaktaar, Borge, Fundingsrud, Christie, & Torgersen, 2004). Less is known about how different types of life stressors (i.e., dependent versus independent) impact adjustment over time for normative populations of adolescents. An important area for exploration is that of protective/vulnerability factors in adolescents who have endured stressful life events. A promising area of exploration is the moderating role of the adolescent-mother attachment relationship as a protective factor against stressful life events. Relatively little attention has been paid to distinguishing between negative and positive adjustment outcomes in exploring these associations. The purpose of this short-term longitudinal study was to investigate the role of attachment quality in the associations between stressful life events (dependent and independent) and adjustment outcomes (positive and negative) with a normative population of adolescents. Multilevel modeling was used to examine these interrelationships and adjustment growth curves. A total of 183 adolescents (n = 96 girls; M age (entire sample) at T1 = 13.0 years, SD = 0.72; M age at T3 = 14.8 years, SD = 0.66) completed an attachment questionnaire, a stressful life events scale, and negative adjustment (depressive symptoms, delinquency) and positive adjustment (responsive caregiving, positive affect) questionnaires. Results indicated that both types of life stressors were important predictors of positive and negative adjustment outcomes. Consistent with previous findings, dependent life events were more strongly linked with depressive symptoms than independent life events. Independent life stress in interaction with attachment was significantly associated with changes in adjustment over time. Protective combinations of attachment with life stressors included lower attachment anxiety with higher independent life stress, which was associated with higher positive affect. More vulnerable combinations included higher attachment avoidance with higher attachment anxiety which was associated with the highest increase in delinquency over time. Results support the importance of specificity of life stressors and specificity of types of adjustment outcomes. Implications for adolescent intervention and prevention programs are discussed.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Dudeck, Marcie Rochelle
Pagination:xi, 140 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Thesis Supervisor(s):Markiewicz, Dorothy
Identification Number:LE 3 C66P79P 2007 D83
ID Code:975650
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:12
Last Modified:13 Jul 2020 20:08
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