The Exploration of Mechanisms Linking Adolescent Attachment Organization and Friendship Competence

Porter, Maryfrances Ruth , Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Allen, Joseph, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Reppucci, Nicholas, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia
Weinfield,, Nancy, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia

Data from a final sample of 147, racially/ethnically and socio-economically diverse, target teens (77 female), and their closest, same-gendered friend, were collected over three annual waves of data collection. The current project included two studies designed to address specific gaps in the literature on links between parenting and peer outcomes for adolescents. Possible cognitive-emotional mechanisms that may mediate links between qualities of parent-adolescent relationships (as measured by interview assessed attachment organization) and friendship competencies during adolescence were examined. Attachment-related affective arousal and social-cognitive flexibility (i.e., cognitive primacy) were not related with one another in predicting attachment organization, de/hyperactivation, or states of mind. There was some evidence that attachment-related affective arousal is associated with deactivation of the attachment system in predictable ways (for boys), that affective arousal interacts with attachment states of mind when predicting friend-reported friendship competence (more dramatically for boys than girls), and that primacy was associated with hyperactivation of the attachment system. While not overwhelming, these results suggest that affective arousal, or perhaps the interpersonal expression of attachment-related affective arousal, may somewhat differentially impact~boys' and girls' friendships, and that insecure teens may fail to use all available information when judging new people. These studies provide modest, albeit theoretically viable, evidence for affect management and social-cognitive flexibility mechanisms of attachment organization. Future research should address measurement and sample limitations of this project.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: