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The nature and importance of attachment relationships to parents and peers during adolescence

Abstract

The nature and quality of adolescents' attachments to peers and parents were assessed with the newly developed Inventory of Adolescent Attachments. The relative influence on measures of self-esteem and life satisfaction of relations with peers and with parents was then investigated in a hierarchical regression model. The sample consisted of 213 adolescents ranging from 12 to 19 years of age. Two hypotheses were tested: (1) The quality of perceived attachments both to parents and peers would be related to well-being, and (2) the quality of parental relationships would be a more powerful predictor of well-being than would the quality of peer relationships. Confirming the study's hypotheses, the perceived quality of the adolescents' relationships to both peers and parents, their frequency of utilization of peers, and their degree of negative life change were significantly related to both measures of well-being. The quality of attachment to parents was significantly more powerful than that to peers in predicting well-being. In addition, quality of attachment to parents showed a moderating effect under conditions of high life stress on the measures of self-esteem. The study suggests that it is useful to consider the quality of attachments to significant others as an important variable throughout the life span.

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Correspondence to Mark T. Greenberg.

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Received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Major research interests are social development in normal and atypical children.

Received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Major research interest include the study of stress and coping in adolescence.

Received her Ph.D. from the University of Utah. Research interests include the prediction of hypertension in adolescence.

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Greenberg, M.T., Siegel, J.M. & Leitch, C.J. The nature and importance of attachment relationships to parents and peers during adolescence. J Youth Adolescence 12, 373–386 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02088721

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Keywords

  • Regression Model
  • Life Satisfaction
  • Life Span
  • Health Psychology
  • Powerful Predictor