Date of Award

1984

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Wayne F. Velicer

Abstract

This study investigates relationships among parent-child affectional interactions (nurturance vs. neglect and acceptance vs. rejection) and parental power assertion (verbal aggression and violence) experienced during childhood and adolescence, additional aspects of personal/familial history (incest, continuity of parental relationships, spousal violence, recent stressful life events, gender, family geographic mobility, family income, parental educational status), and current psychosocial functioning (self-esteem, psychophysiological distress, attributional style, anxiety, interpersonal affect, succorance, dominance, impulsivity, hostility-aggression, assertion, manifest rejection of children, violence approval, antisocial activity) in a mixed-sex sample group of 331 volunteer student subjects.

All variables were assessed on the basis of subjects' responses to a questionnaire comprised of eight standardized inventories (Family Relations Inventory, Conflicts Tactics Scale, Tennessee Self Concept Scale, Hopkins Symptom Checklist, Attribution Style Questionnaire, Jackson Personality Inventory, Personality Research Form, Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory, Lorr Assertiveness Scale, Manifest Rejection Index, Violence Scale) and a series of structured questions regarding personal/familial history (Family Data Form).

Independent principal components analyses applied to historical and current variables reduced variables within each set to several broad constructs. Analysis of 20 family/historical variables extracted six constructs: (a) parent-child affectional relationships; (b) parental power assertion; (c) spousal violence and incest; (d) recent stress and incest; (e) parental verbal aggression; and (f) socioeconomic status. Analysis of 30 current/psychosocial variables extracted five constructs: (a) emotional instability; (b) violence approval; (c) self-assurance; (d) hostility-aggression; and (e) dependency-interdependency.

A canonical correlation analysis applied to 20 historical and 30 current variables retained three significant variates. The first variate indicates that high levels of parental nurturance and acceptance in conjunction with low levels of parental verbal aggression and violence are associated with high self-assurance and dependency-interdependency, and low emotional instability and hostility-aggression. The second variate indicates that gender and parental nurturance and acceptance are systematically related to violence approval and specific aspects of emotional instability, self-assurance, dependency-interdependency, and hostility-aggression. The third variate indicates that parental verbal aggression and violence and recent stressful life events are positively associated with emotional instability and specific aspects of violence approval, self-assurance, and hostility-aggression. An independent canonical correlation analysis applied to data obtained from female subjects indicates that incest and father-to-mother violence are positively associated with emotional instability and hostility-aggression, and negatively associated with self-assurance and dependency-interdependency.

Findings are interpreted as supporting the hypothesis that parental maltreatment -- manifested in neglect, rejection, aggression, and/or incest -- experienced during childhood and adolescence is associated with vulnerable intra- and interpersonal functioning during young adulthood. Implications for intervention with victims of parental maltreatment are discussed.

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