Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 471–485 | Cite as

Perceived attachments to parents and peers and psychological well-being in adolescence

  • Shyamala Nada Raja
  • Rob McGee
  • Warren R. Stanton


This paper reports the findings from a study of 935 adolescents' perceived attachments to their parents and peers, and their psychological health and well-being. Perceived attachment to parents did not significantly differ between males and females. However, females scored significantly higher than males on a measure of attachment to peers. Also, relative to males, they had higher anxiety and depression scores, suggesting poorer psychological well-being. Overall, a lower perceived attachment to parents was significantly associated with lower scores on the measures of well-being. Adolescents who perceived high attachments to both their parents and peers had the highest scores on a measure of self-perceived strengths. In this study, adolescents' perceived attachment to peers did not appear to compensate for a low attachment to parents in regard to their mental ill-health. These findings suggest that high perceived attachment to parents may be a critical variable associated with psychological well-being in adolescence.


Health Psychology Lower Score Critical Variable Depression Score High Anxiety 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Armsden, G. C., and Greenberg, M. T. (1987). The inventory of parent and peer attachment: Individual differences and their relationship to psychological well-being in adolescence.J. Youth Adolesc. 16: 427–453.Google Scholar
  2. Berndt, T. J. (1979). Developmental changes in conformity to peers and parents.Develop. Psychol. 15: 608–616.Google Scholar
  3. Boyce, W. T. (1985). Social support, family relations, and children. In Cohen, S., and Syme, S. L. (eds.),Social Support and Health. Academic Press, Orlando, FL.Google Scholar
  4. Bowlby, J. (1977). The making and breaking of affectional bonds I: Aetiology and psychopathology in the light of attachment theory.Br. J. Psychiatr. 130: 201–210.Google Scholar
  5. Burke, R. J., and Weir, T. (1978). Benefits to adolescents of informal helping relationships with their parents and peers.Psychol. Rep. 42: 1175–1184.Google Scholar
  6. Burke, R. J., and Weir, T. (1979). Helping responses of parents and peers and adolescent well-being.J. Psychol. 102: 49–62.Google Scholar
  7. Colby, A., and Damon, W. (1983). Listening to a different voice: A review of Gilligan's in a different voice.Merrill-Palmer Quart. 29: 473–481.Google Scholar
  8. Costello, A., Edelbrock, C., Kalas, R., Kessler, M., and Klaric, S. A. (1982).Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC). Written under contract to the National Institute of Mental Health.Google Scholar
  9. Elley, W. B., and Irving, J. C. (1972). A socio-economic index for New Zealand based on levels of education and income from the 1966 census.New Zeal. J. Ed. Stud. 7: 155–167.Google Scholar
  10. Gilligan, C. (1982).In a Different Voice. Harvard, University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  11. Greenberg, M. T., Siegel, J. M., and Leitch, C. J. (1983). The nature and importance of attachment relationships to parents and peers during adolescence.J. Youth Adolesc. 12: 373–386.Google Scholar
  12. Hansell, S. (1985). Adolescent friendship networks and distress in school.Social Forces 63: 698–715.Google Scholar
  13. Lapsley, D. K., Rice, K. G., and Filzgerald, D. P. (1990). Adolescent attachment, identity, and adjustment to college: Implications for the continuity of adaptation hypothesis.J. Counsel. Develop. 68: 561–565.Google Scholar
  14. Lewis, C. E., Siegel, J. M., and Lewis, M. A. (1984). Feeling bad: Exploring sources of distress among pre-adolescent children.Am. J. Public Health 74: 117–122.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Rosenberg, M. (1979).Conceiving the Self. Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar
  16. Silva, P. A. (1990). The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Study: A fifteen year longitudinal study.Paed. Perinatal Epidemiol. 4: 76–107.Google Scholar
  17. Smith, T. E. (1976). Push versus pull—Intra-family versus peer group variables as possible determinants of adolescent orientation toward parents.Youth Society 8: 5–26.Google Scholar
  18. Steinberg, L., and Silverberg, S. B. (1986). The vicissitudes of autonomy in early adolescence.Child Develop. 57: 841–851.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Williams, S., and McGee, R. (1991). Adolescents' self-perceptions of their strengths.J. Youth Adolesc. 20: 325–337.Google Scholar
  20. Williams, S. McGee, R., Anderson, J., Silva, P. A. (1989). The structure and correlates of self-reported symptoms in 11-year-old children.J. Abnorm. Child Psychol. 17: 55–71.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shyamala Nada Raja
    • 1
  • Rob McGee
    • 2
  • Warren R. Stanton
    • 1
  1. 1.Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Medical SchoolUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Medical SchoolUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations