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The Role of Parenting and Attachment in
Identity Style Development

By: Kaylin Ratner | Mentor: Dr. Steven Berman

Purpose and Rationale

Given the evidence to support the relationships among parenting, parental attachment, and identity, questions remain about the mechanisms through which these relationships function. The purpose of the present study is to replicate and expand on Berzonsky's (2004) parenting and identity style study by introducing a third variable, parental attachment, to the picture. Further, the present study aims to close a current gap in the literature concerning how younger adolescents form their sense of self. As in the case of Berzonsky (2004) and much other prior literature, two trends typically occur: university students are often the population of choice due to convenience, and parents are commonly examined as an aggregated unit.

The first trend represents a unique issue because once an individual decides to attend college, parental exposure is reduced. At the high school age, individuals are starting to become autonomous and to determine their identity. Parents, if they so choose, have a significant impact in their child's daily activities and decisions. Although this study does not delve far into various parental dimensions, we believe in the contributive value of examining the younger population, who are still exposed to their parents on a frequent basis. It is for this reason that the present study examines how the relationship between parenting and identity style appears in a younger, high school-aged population, where it is theorized that peak identity development is occurring and it is believed that parental influence is most salient.

The second trend is addressed by teasing out the differences between maternal and paternal influence on identity style by analyzing the parenting data separately. Mothers and fathers may have a differential impact on early adolescent identity formation, and the goal of the present study is to observe and describe this difference, should one exist, so that identity intervention programs and family-based therapeutic approaches can better address issues related to adolescent identity diffusion and distress (Berman, Kennerley, & Kennerley, 2008). These issues are particularly important due to the negative psychological and psychosocial outcomes related to an unstable, disjunctive identity.

Hypotheses

H1: Identity style would be significantly dependent on parenting style. Moreover, it was hypothesized that both the normative and the informational identity style would be significantly and positively predicted, whereas the diffuse-avoidant identity style would be significantly and negatively predicted, by parental responsiveness and demandingness.

H2: Both parental responsiveness and demandingness would positively predict attachment.

H3: Parental attachment would positively predict the informational and normative identity style and negatively predict the diffuse-avoidant identity style.

H4: Attachment mediates the relationship between parenting and identity style.

Method >>