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Family functioning and parental divorce as predictors of attachment styles and sexual attitudes in college students

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Kathy L Kufskie
Abstract:
Research has demonstrated that parental divorce and family functioning are associated with children's socieomotional and psychological adjustment well into their adult years. Research has also demonstrated that sexual attitudes are becoming more liberal (cf., Harding & Jencks, 2003; Leiblum, Wiegel, & Brickle, 2003). The purpose of this research was to examine family functioning and parental divorce status in relation to attachment styles and sexual attitudes among college students ( n = 387). The participants completed the Brief Sexual Attitudes Scale (BSAS), The Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised Scale (ECR-R), and Family Relationship Index (FRI). As hypothesized, family functioning was a better indicator than divorce status in explaining anxious and avoidant attachment scores. The hypothesis that family functioning would be a better predictor than divorce status in explaining permissive sexual attitudes was not supported. Furthermore, the hypothesis that higher scores on anxious and avoidant attachment scores would be predictive of more permissive sexual attitudes was supported with regard to avoidant attachment styles. Specifically, SPSS data analyses using multiple regressions found that college students who reported greater cohesiveness within their families (regardless of parental divorce status) reported lower anxious and lower avoidant attachment scores. Neither divorce status nor family functioning was predictive of permissive sexual attitudes. However, participants who reported greater avoidant attachment scores also reported endorsing more permissive sexual attitudes scores. Finally, males were more likely than females to endorse permissive sexual attitudes. Limitations and suggestions for future research are also discussed.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Copyright………………………………………………………………………….. iii Abstract……………………………………………………………………............. iv Dedication…………………………………………………………………………. v Acknowledgements………………………………………………………………… vi Table of Contents…………………………………………………………………... vii List of Tables………………………………………………………………………. xi CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION………………………………………………….. 1 Divorce and Children………………………………………………………. 2 Adult Children of Divorce…………………………………………………. 5 Family Functioning………………………………………………………… 7 Attachment and Parental Divorce/Family Functioning……………………. 11 Sexual Attitudes……………………………………………………............. 13 Attachment Styles and Sexual Attitudes…………………………………… 17 Statement of Purpose...…………………………………………………….. 19 Hypotheses…………………………………………………………............. 19 Attachment Styles………………………………………………….. 20 Sexual Attitudes……………………………………………............. 20 CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW…………………………………………. 21 Divorce……………………………………………………………………... 22 Adult Children of Divorce and Romantic Relationships…………………... 27 Family Functioning…………………………………………………............ 35

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Attachment Theory………………………………………………………… 50 Attachment Stability……………………………………………….............. 54 Attachment Theory, Adult Attachment Styles and Intimate Relationships………………………………………………………………. 58 Models of Attachment………………………………………………........... 73 Sexual Attitudes……………………………………………………............. 76 Attachment Style and Sexual Attitudes……………………………............ 84 Chapter Summary………………………………………………………….. 87 CHAPTER III: METHOD………………………………………………………… 91 Participants………………………………………………………………… 91 Measures…………………………………………………………………… 92 Demographics……………………………………………………… 92 Brief Sexual Attitudes Scale………………………………………. 92 Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised scale………………… 95 Family Environment Scale …………………………………........... 98 Procedure……………………………………………………………........... 100 Research Design…………………………………………………….............102 Causal Comparative………………………………………………………... 102 Statistical Analysis…………………………………………………............. 102 Descriptive Data Analysis……………………………………………..........102 Inferential Statistics………………………………………………………... 103 Summary…………………………………………………………………… 103

CHAPTER IV: RESULTS………………………………………………………… 105

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Preliminary Analyses and Inferential Statistics…………………….............105 Hypothesis Testing………………………………………………….............105 Hypotheses as Related to Attachment Style………………………..105 Hypothesis One……………………………………………..106 Hypothesis Two……………………………………………. 108 Hypotheses as Related to Sexual Attitudes……………………….. 108 Hypothesis Three…………………………………………... 108 Hypothesis Four……………………………………............ 110 Hypothesis Five……………………………………………. 110 Chapter Summary………………………………………………………….. 111 CHAPTER V: DISCUSSION…………………………………………….. 116 Results and Implications…………………………………………………… 117 Attachment…………………………………………………............ 118 Sexual Attitudes……………………………………………............ 120 Attachment and Sexual Attitudes…………………………............. 121 Limitations…………………………………………………………............. 123 Future Directions…………………………………………………............... 124 Counseling Implications……………………………………………............ 125 Summary…………………………………………………………..……….. 128 References…………………………………………………………………………. 129

Appendices

Participant Consent Form………………………………………………….. 147

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Appendix A………………………………………………………………………… 150 Brief Sexual Attitudes Scale……………………………………………….. 150 Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised ……………………………… 153 Family Environment Scale…………………………………………............. 156 Demographic Questionnaire……………………………………………….. 159 Appendix B………………………………………………………………… ………161 Participant Contact Information…………………………………………… 161 Faculty Cover Letter……………………………………………………….. 162 Survey Completion Instructions………………………………………........ 163

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LIST OF TABLES 1. Subscale Intercorrelations, Means, Standard Deviations and Cronbach‟s Alphas……………………………………………………………………….113 2. Means and Standard Deviations for Attachment, Family Functioning and Sexual Attitudes by Parental Divorce Status………………………………………. 114 3. Means and Standard Deviations for Attachment, Family Functioning and Sexual Attitudes by Gender………………………………………………………... 115

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CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

Mental health professionals (e.g., psychiatrists, counselors, psychologists, social workers, and marriage and family therapists) often counsel people with relationship issues. Divorce and family functioning are issues that potentially many mental health professionals will encounter as part of their work because divorce rates are relatively high in American society (Hughes, 2005; Summers, Forehand, Armistead, & Tannenbaum, 1998; Wallerstein, 1985; Zill & Nord, 1993). Although divorce is not always experienced as a negative event, and it is noted that some children of divorce adjust well to the experience (Chase-Lansdale, Cherlin, & Kiernan, 1995; Wallerstein, 1985), the likelihood of mental health professionals encountering clients with concerns related to divorce and/or family functioning is high. It is important that mental health professionals understand the underlying facets of divorce in relation to family functioning in order to be effective in counseling clients. This research examines aspects associated with the divorce of one‟s parents, and how these aspects may be related to a person‟s psychological adjustment. More specifically, this particular research study aims to explore attachment, family functioning and sexual attitudes among college students from divorced and non-divorced families. Whittaker and Robitschek (2001) stated that the need to focus on preventative components of the counseling process is a new direction for counselors. If mental health professionals understand some of the research related to family functioning and divorce, it will better equip them to work with families that may encounter concerns related to

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divorce and/or family functioning. It will also help them develop a better understanding of adults from divorced families. This research aims to expand the research as it relates to the divorce process in relation to family functioning, attachment style and sexual attitudes. Divorce and Children According to the U.S Census Bureau (2005), marital patterns are affected by social events in addition to changes that may occur in the cultural attitudes and behaviors of people. Hughes (2005) reported that for every two marriages that occurred in the 1990s, there was one divorce. Similarly, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that one out of every two marriages end in divorce (Wendel, 1997). Studies of divorce reveal considerable inconsistency with regard to the moderating effects of age and gender on the consequences of marital dissolution for children (Zaslow, 1987). In a comprehensive review of gender and divorce as they relate to children, Zaslow (1987) concluded that it is unclear whether boys react more negatively to marital disruption compared to girls. Zaslow suggested that boys and girls may demonstrate different symptoms of distress. Specifically, it was stated that boys tend to respond more negatively to living with an opposite sex parent. Zaslow (1987) further noted that although the sex difference hypothesis in children‟s reactions to divorce has been widely discussed, it has not been fully examined empirically. Zaslow described several other limitations in research associated with children‟s responses to parental divorce. Furthermore, Zaslow proposed expansion of data collection for examining sex differences. It was also suggested that responses to divorce be examined in relation to

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socioeconomic status, and argued for the use of nationally representative samples, the use of longitudinal designs, and the examination of parental conflict prior to divorce to get a better assessment of how divorce may be related to children‟s post divorce adjustment. Additionally, in an extensive summary of the divorce literature, Emery (1988) argued that age effects may be less clear-cut or easily interpreted than has been previously regarded. Specifically, Emery (1988) stated that theoretical viewpoints suggest that children below the ages of five or six appeared to be the most harmed by divorce. This was also the age when divorce was most common. However, age of the child is frequently confounded with age at the time of separation as well as with the length of time since separation. Allison and Furstenburg (1989) attempted to disentangle these temporal dimensions. This was a task that required a longitudinal design along with a large sample of children who had been exposed to marital dissolution. Their results showed that marital dissolution had long lasting and pervasive effects on children in areas of problem behaviors, academic performance, and psychological distress. Relevant to the aforementioned study, daughters seemed to be more affected than sons in that they were more likely to express an insecure attachment style. A study by Stolberg and Bush (1985) measured children‟s post-divorce adjustment. Findings of the study suggested that the number of major life events that were reported mediated the effect of age on children‟s post-divorce adjustment. The results indicated that children who described their mothers as being more socially competent post-divorce tended to be involved in more prosocial activities, had better school adjustment, had a better self concept, and had healthier ratings in relation to

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internalizing or externalizing psychopathology. The children who were described as more socially competent were from homes which demonstrated less marital hostility. Laumann–Billings and Emery (2000) noted that children of divorced parents are placed at a greater risk for a variety of psychological problems compared to children whose parents were still married. Specifically, children of divorce reported painful feelings, beliefs and memories associated with parental divorce. James (1989) stated that divorce can threaten the loss of parental contact which can feel threatening to a child, and that children who once formed secure attachments could react to a perceived loss such as divorce with feelings of anger and anxiety. Such feelings may result in “an anxious attachment to subsequent figures” (p. 120). Additionally, children from divorced families tend to be overrepresented in populations with psychiatric distress (Rae-Grant & Robson, 1988). Amato and Keith (1991) conducted a meta-analysis. Their meta-analysis of 92 studies compared children living in divorced, single-parent families with children living in intact families that never divorced. The authors specifically examined children‟s well- being. The results of their analysis concluded that children who lost a parent through death scored higher on measures of well-being than children who experienced a divorce. Divorce in conjunction with other factors such as loss of parental contact, family conflict and economic hardship was related to child well-being in terms of lower educational attainment, dependence on welfare, and bearing children out of wedlock. The strongest predictor of well-being was family conflict.

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Amato (2000) examined research related to consequences of divorce for children and for adults. Amato concluded that marital dissolution has the potential to create significant turmoil for children and adults to the point where one may never recover emotionally from the divorce. Nevertheless, some individuals may only experience temporary problems in well-being, and in some cases, divorce is of benefit. Amato further attested that people vary greatly in their reactions. Although there have been numerous studies related to divorce and children‟s post- divorce adjustment in relation to divorce, it is also important to review some of the research that has studied how children may be influenced by their parent‟s divorce when they become adults. Adult Children of Divorce Wallerstein and Blakeslee (1989) reported that young adults from divorced families have a tendency to be anxious, to fear rejection, to express incongruent feelings, to have low self-esteem, to be indecisive, and to be vulnerable to depression. Aro and Palosaari (1992) found similar results in adult children from divorced families (ACD) in terms of increased depression. Amato (1993) noted that persons from divorced families tend to have long-term consequences such as poorer psychological adjustment, lower amounts of socioeconomic attainment, and greater marital instability during early adulthood. Laumann-Billings and Emery (2000) reported that many college students from divorced families had distressing feelings about their parent‟s divorce. They were three times more likely to believe that they had more difficult childhoods than most people. These beliefs were still evident more than a decade after the parental divorce. Bolgar,

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Zweig-Frank, and Paris (1995) have also documented the relationship between being an adult child of divorce and the experience of interpersonal problems in a sample of college students. Their study noted that adult children of divorce are less submissive, are more controlling, and report more problems with intimacy compared to college students from intact families. Gender differences among adult children of divorce have also been studied. Henry and Holmes (1988) conducted a study in which they noted that daughters of divorce compared to sons of divorce were more likely to be pessimistic about relationships in general. Daughters of divorce were also more likely to worry about being abandoned and not being “good enough.” Collins and Read (1990) reported similar results in their study. They noted that many adult daughters from divorced families likened the divorce to their father‟s abandoning them, and they tended to be more argumentative in relationships. Johnston and Thomas (1996) found that ACDs that marry are more likely to divorce when there are problems in their own marriage. Specifically, the experience of a parental divorce as a child appears to model divorce in one‟s own marriage. For example, ACDs tend not to work on their own marriages when they experience difficulties in their own relationships (Wallerstein, Lewis & Blakeslee, 2000). These results are related to the study conducted by Amato (1993) in which long-term consequences on adult well-being were measured in relation to parental divorce. The results illustrated that the consequences were more likely to be negative than positive. Fine, Moreland, and Schwebel (1983) also studied the long-term aspects of divorce in relation to parent-child relationships with a sample of college students. The

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results indicated that adult persons from divorced families perceived their relationships with their parents less positively compared to adults from intact families. Furthermore, Amato and Booth (2001) conducted a longitudinal study in which they assessed the marital quality of parents compared to the marital quality of their adult offspring. The results indicated that parental report of marital discord 17 years prior predicted the same model of marital discord among their offspring which suggested that marital quality is transmitted from parent to offspring. More specifically, when parents had reported that they had more conflict and instability in their marriages in 1980, children later reported the same in their own marriages in 1997. Franklin, Janoff-Bulman and Roberts (1990) also used college students from divorced and non-divorced families to assess levels of trust in marital relationships. Their results indicated that college students from divorced families reported less trust of a future spouse compared to college students from intact families. Although there have been numerous studies on divorce in relation to child and adult post-divorce adjustment, it is also important to review how divorce is related to adjustment in relation to terms of family functioning and attachment. Family Functioning Family functioning is another factor that needs to be closely examined. Family functioning includes aspects such as the roles and rules within a family and the expectations for behaviors within a family (Bray, 1995). A divorce in and of itself is not typically the only contributor to children‟s adjustment. Typically, the functioning of the family that takes place prior to and after the divorce is significant. For example, family

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dynamics can be related to the pre-divorce and post-divorce experience of all those involved. Portes, Howell, Brown, Eichenberger and Mas (1992) researched family functioning in relation to children‟s post-divorce adjustment. They noted that families that had nurturance and support after the divorce were most likely to minimize maladjustment in their children. Also, children exposed to parental conflict post-divorce tended to regress emotionally in terms of social withdrawal, anxiety and depression. Furthermore, family functioning such as disharmony among parental figures has been shown to have an unfavorable outcome on the parent-child relationship in the aspects of conflict between mothers and children, decreased time and attentiveness to children‟s needs, and inconsistent discipline (Hetherington, 1989). Disharmony among parental figures has also been related to the child‟s peer and romantic relationships in that more parental conflict was related to declines in rates of intimacy in child romantic relationships (Bolgar et al., 1995; Ensign, Scherman, & Clark, 1998). Kurdek and Sinclair (1988) conducted a study where they assessed the relation between children‟s performance in school and family environment with 219 eighth grade students. The results determined that family process variables such as valuing achievement and intellectual activities tended to be more reliable predictors of school performance than family structure (e.g., two-parent nuclear families, mother-custody, and stepfather families). Amato and Booth (1997) conducted a longitudinal analysis in which they measured overt interparental conflict prior to divorce; they found that less than a third of the divorces involved highly conflicted marriages (e.g., spousal physical abuse, serious

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quarrels, and disagreements that occurred often or very often). Because divorce is not just related to high conflict marriages, it is also important to examine family functioning in conjunction with divorce. Family functioning involves many factors. For the purpose of this research, cohesion, expressiveness and conflict are specific areas of focus in relation to family functioning. According to Moos and Moos (1986), cohesion refers to the extent to which the family members are concerned about and committed to the family. Cohesion also involves the degree to which family members are helpful and supportive of one another. Expressiveness refers to the extent to which family members are allowed and encouraged to act openly. Expressiveness also involves the extent to which family members are able to express feelings directly. Conflict refers to the extent to which the outward expression of anger and aggression are characteristic of the family. Research in relation to family functioning has demonstrated that low family functioning (along with parental divorce) is related to young adults‟ inability to form lasting, intimate relationships with significant peers (Amato & Booth, 1991). A review of the literature by Emery (1982) noted that high levels of family conflict can be adversely associated with adolescent functioning in regard to behavioral problems and coercive demands. Emery also suggested that conflict may disrupt attachment bonds. Robitschek and Kashubeck (1999) found that unhealthy family functioning in college students was associated with lower levels of hardiness, which in turn predicted greater psychological distress.

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Amato, Loomis, and Booth (1995) conducted a 12-year longitudinal study that examined high-conflict and low-conflict ridden families. The results demonstrated that young adults living in high-conflict families had higher well-being if their parents divorced when they were children as opposed to staying together. In low-conflict families, if the children‟s parents stayed together, then as young adults they had higher well-being. Jekielek (1998) also conducted a study with results similar to those cited by Amato et al., in that the consequences of divorce of the parents depended partly on the level of parental conflict prior to the actual divorce. Katz and Low (2004) conducted a study in which they measured marital violence in relation to child outcomes (delinquency, aggression, withdrawal and anxiety/depression). The results of the Katz and Low study indicated that marital violence was significantly related to child delinquency and aggression as well as to withdrawal and anxiety/depression. Several studies have examined family functioning in relation to adult children of alcoholics (cf., El-Sheikh & Buckhalt, 2003; Robitschek & Kashubeck, 1999). However, very few studies have looked at family functioning in recent years as it relates to adult children of divorce. This research study will focus on adult college students who experienced their parents‟ divorce when they were a child and adult college students who did not experience parental divorce as a means to identify potential correlates of family functioning and divorce status. How divorce and family functioning relate to attachment security is also of concern.

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Attachment and Parental Divorce/Family Functioning Attachment is considered an emotional bond that one person forms with another person (Ainsworth, 1973). Attachment style has been studied in both children (cf., Ainsworth & Bowlby, 1991) and adults (cf., Hazen & Shaver, 1987). Dimensions of attachment style include secure and insecure attachment. Furthermore, it has been theorized that the stress associated with changes in family status (e.g., divorce) may be related to a shift in cognitive schemas. Cognitive schemas may result in a less secure attachment (Bowlby, 1969) as well as intergenerational diffusion of the predisposition to a particular attachment style (Adshead & Blueglass, 2001). Walker and Ehrenberg (1998) assessed the adult child‟s perception of his or her parents‟ divorce to understand how it may be related to his or her own adult romantic relationships. In their study, they made careful indication that some individuals from divorced backgrounds enjoyed positive and long lasting romantic relationships. They also addressed the fact that further research is required to determine why some young people from divorced homes are capable of having thriving romantic relationships while others experience long-term relationship difficulties. Overall, the findings indicated that the majority of college student participants from divorced homes (73%) classified themselves as having an insecure (fearful, preoccupied, and dismissing) attachment style. Only 27% classified themselves as having a secure attachment style. Perceived reasons for parental divorce were explored in relation to the participant‟s own attachment styles (secure and insecure) in romantic relationships. The participants who identified that they were

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somehow accountable for their parent‟s divorce were more likely to have an insecure attachment style in their own relationships. Love and Murdock (2004) noted that numerous studies have shown that children from stepfamilies tend to have more difficulties compared to those from intact, biological families in relation to emotional, social, physical and psychological distress. The results of their study confirmed that, after controlling for family conflict, attachment style was a significant predictor of well-being in college students. Individuals from stepfamilies had less secure attachments to their parents compared to individuals from intact biological families. Overall, the authors found that attachment style was partly associated with the relationship between family type and psychological well being. Caffery (2000) and El-Sheikh and Buckhalt (2003) utilized college students to assess family functioning in relation to attachment style. It was noted that families that provided emotional support and nurturance were more likely to have securely attached children. Caffery found that family functioning variables (e.g., affective responsiveness, affective involvement, communication, and role functioning) were related to higher scores on attachment security variables (e.g., confidence). El-Sheikh and Buckhalt determined from their study that higher levels of family cohesion and adaptability were robust factors that protected against adjustment and cognitive difficulties in families who displayed marital conflict. It was also noted that less secure attachments to parents were predictive of higher levels of cognitive and social problems among children. Thus, the results of both studies indicated that family functioning was significantly related to attachment security.

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A study by Kapanee and Rao (2007) assessed family functioning in relation to family dynamics and adult attachment style among 327 college students. The results noted that persons who were securely attached rated their families higher in family functioning variables such as cohesion, expressiveness, and family sociability. It was also noted that good interpersonal communications were associated with a secure attachment. Overall, the data on divorce, family functioning, and attachment suggest that divorce and poor family functioning are associated with attachment styles in offspring. Sexual Attitudes Sexual attitudes encompass a wide range of factors associated with sexual behaviors such as religion, sexual locus of control, views on premarital sexuality, attitudes about condoms, marital standards in relation to moral development, and intimate personal relationships. Sexual attitudes and behaviors can include communication about sex, sexual locus of control, sexual self-efficacy, attitudes about condoms, and sexual behaviors (Feeney, Peterson, Gallois, & Terry, 2000). For example, the aspect of choosing to be monogamous in an intimate relationship is an endorsement of a sexual attitude and its subsequent behavior. Closely tied to sexual attitudes is sexual behavior. Feldman and Cauffman (2000) defined sexual permissiveness (an attitude) to include the aspect that sexuality among humans should be unrestrained, open and free, as opposed to being limited and controlled. Endorsement of casual sexuality would be an example of sexual permissiveness. The literature also shows that sexual permissiveness is closely related to sexual behaviors and other sexual attitudes. Hendrick, Hendrick, Slapion-Foote and Foote (1985) identified sexual

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permissiveness as how far people will go sexually. Another factor associated with sexual permissiveness is the value of engaging in extramarital sex (Treas & Griesen, 2000; Smith, 1994). Thus, sexual attitudes related to permissiveness can include aspects of non- commitment in a sexual relationship, the endorsement of casual sex, and the utilization of numerous sexual partners (Hendrick, Hendrick, & Reich, 2006). Sexually permissive attitudes and behaviors have been examined in the literature on adult children of divorce. Specifically, one study that measured parental divorce in association with sexual attitudes was conducted by Jeynes (2001), who tested the hypothesis that children from recently divorced (four years or less) parents have different attitudes and behaviors regarding premarital intercourse compared to those with parents divorced for four years or longer. Previous research (cf., Hetherington, Stanley-Hagan, & Anderson, 1989) had indicated that divorce has a greater impact on children early after the divorce (recency hypothesis) compared to later years after the divorce (constancy hypothesis). The results from Jeynes‟ study indicated that children from recently divorced single-parent families compared to children from intact families displayed a more permissive pre-marital sexual attitude of not thinking it was important to be married before childbirth, and that it was acceptable to have a child out of wedlock. Jeynes also noted that children from recently divorced single-parent families compared to children from non-recently divorced families were no more likely to believe it was important to be married prior to childbirth or to consider having a child before marriage or to have had a child out of wedlock. Thus, the results from this particular analysis of divorced families clearly supported the constancy hypothesis in that students whose parents had recently divorced did not display more

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permissive sexual attitudes or behaviors in relation to premarital sex compared to students whose parents had been divorced for four years or longer. Thus, children from any divorced family may undergo long-term emotional and behavioral consequences, consistent with the constancy hypothesis as also supported by other researchers (cf., Wallerstein, Corbin, & Lewis, 1988; Wallerstein & Blakeslee, 1989; Wallerstein & Lewis, 1998). Gabardi and Rosen (1992) noted that college students who were adult children of divorce (ACD) tended to have negative emotions related to trust, and that sexual activity was more desired by ACD compared to adult college students whose parents did not divorce. The Gabardi and Rosen study also revealed that college ACD had significantly more sexual partners compared to college students from non-divorced families. This was true for both males and females. However, regardless of divorce status, males were more endorsing of sexual behaviors than females in general. Furthermore, the Gabardi and Rosen study noted that the degree of parental marital conflict was associated with the total number of sexual partners of college students. Specifically, their study noted that college students who had reported that their parents had high levels of marital conflict tended to have more sexual partners compared to college students whose parents did not have high levels of marital conflict. Additionally, other studies (Bukstel et al., 1978; Jeynes, 2001; Walker & Ehrenberg, 1998) have also noted that ACD desire more sexual activity compared to non-ACD. Christensen and Brooks (2001) conducted a review of the literature to assess how parental divorce influences ACD in their own intimate relationships. The authors noted

Full document contains 175 pages
Abstract: Research has demonstrated that parental divorce and family functioning are associated with children's socieomotional and psychological adjustment well into their adult years. Research has also demonstrated that sexual attitudes are becoming more liberal (cf., Harding & Jencks, 2003; Leiblum, Wiegel, & Brickle, 2003). The purpose of this research was to examine family functioning and parental divorce status in relation to attachment styles and sexual attitudes among college students ( n = 387). The participants completed the Brief Sexual Attitudes Scale (BSAS), The Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised Scale (ECR-R), and Family Relationship Index (FRI). As hypothesized, family functioning was a better indicator than divorce status in explaining anxious and avoidant attachment scores. The hypothesis that family functioning would be a better predictor than divorce status in explaining permissive sexual attitudes was not supported. Furthermore, the hypothesis that higher scores on anxious and avoidant attachment scores would be predictive of more permissive sexual attitudes was supported with regard to avoidant attachment styles. Specifically, SPSS data analyses using multiple regressions found that college students who reported greater cohesiveness within their families (regardless of parental divorce status) reported lower anxious and lower avoidant attachment scores. Neither divorce status nor family functioning was predictive of permissive sexual attitudes. However, participants who reported greater avoidant attachment scores also reported endorsing more permissive sexual attitudes scores. Finally, males were more likely than females to endorse permissive sexual attitudes. Limitations and suggestions for future research are also discussed.