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The Role of Parenting and Attachment in
Identity Style Development

By: Kaylin Ratner | Mentor: Dr. Steven Berman



Data from 264 participants were collected from two high schools in the central Florida area. No identifying information was collected from the participants other than basic demographic information. The sample consisted of 155 female and 109 male participants, with ages ranging between 14 and 19 years (M = 16.10, SD = 1.15). Participants were fairly evenly distributed among the four grade levels surveyed: 12.5% of the sample were high school freshman (9th grade), 27.3% of the sample were sophomores (10th grade), 35.2% of the sample were juniors (11th grade), and 24.2% of the sample were seniors (12th grade). The majority of the sample, 70.5% (n =186) were White, non-Hispanic. Furthermore, 57.6% (n = 152) of the sample reported that they consider both their mother and their father to be their primary caregivers.


Demographic Questionnaire

A demographic questionnaire, developed for the purposes of this study, was administered to the students to assess age, grade standing, gender, ethnicity, and family dynamics (i.e., who the adolescents identified as their prominent caregiver[s]).

Identity Style Inventory – 3 (ISI-3; Berzonsky, 1992)

The ISI-3 is a 40 item measure that assesses three social-cognitive styles related to identity exploration. Participants were asked to rate how much they agree or disagree with statements associated with how they resolve personal issues and utilize decision-making strategies using a five-point Likert scale ranging from "Strongly Disagree"(1) to "Strongly Agree"(5). The three styles measured on the ISI include: the informational-style (e.g., "I've spent a lot of time and talked to a lot of people trying to develop a set of values that make sense to me"); the normative-style (e.g., "I've more or less always operated according to the values with which I was brought up"); and the diffusive-avoidant style (e.g., "When I have to make a decision, I try to wait as long as possible to see what will happen"). Reported test-retest reliability (N = 94) of the scales in this measure were found to be .87 (Informational), .87 (Normative), and .83 (Diffuse-Avoidant) for each of the separate subscales (Berzonsky, 2003). Further, Cronbach's alpha has been reported as .78 (Informational), .61 (Normative), and .78 (Diffuse-Avoidant) in prior students. In this study, Cronbach's alpha for the subscales were found to be .71 (Informational), .65 (Normative), and .72 (Diffuse-Avoidant) for the various subscales.

Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (Parent Subscale) (IPPA; Armsden & Greenberg, 1987)

The IPPA was developed to measure attachment in older adolescents. For this study, only the parental attachment scale was used and participants were asked to complete this measure twice to measure maternal and paternal attachment independently. Each item was reworded to reflect the gender of the parent in question (e.g., "My father accepts me as I am," "Sometimes I wish I had a different mother."). For each of the 28 items assessing parental attachment, respondents were required to rate the degree to which each item is true for them on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 'Never true' (1) to 'Always true' (5). In this study, both the maternal and paternal attachment subscales were found to have the same Cronbach's alpha (.91).

The Authoritative Parenting Index (API; Jackson, Henriksen, & Foshee, 1998)

The API is a 16 item measure used to assess parental responsiveness (e.g., "My parents want to hear about my problems") and demandingness (e.g., "My parents have rules for me to follow"). For the purposes of this study, the scale was duplicated to measure maternal and paternal influence separately. Changes made to the measure were limited to rewording pronouns/nouns to match the gender in question. Using a four-point Likert scale, participants were asked to evaluate statements based on how closely their parent matches the description. Responses range from "Not like her/him" (1) to "Just like her/him" (4). In the present study, it was found that Cronbach's alpha was sufficient, with a score of .88 for the maternal responsiveness subscale, .80 for the maternal demandingness, .87 for the paternal responsiveness, and .84 for the paternal demandingness.


Following approval of the University of Central Florida Institutional Review Board, students were recruited based upon enrollment in classes at two high schools in central Florida. Approved parent informed consent documents were given to participating instructors to distribute to students approximately one week prior to assessment day. Students who returned a signed parental consent form were allowed to participate in the study. No monetary compensation was offered to the participants. After obtaining both parental consent and participant assent, the students completed the one-session anonymous survey in group settings of approximately thirty students. The survey battery lasted approximately forty-five minutes. A brief set of directions were read to the students and researchers stood by to give assistance as needed.

Results >>