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Family environment and attributions among adult children of intact and nonintact families

Tricia M Besett-Alesch, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to clarify whether individuals who come from nonintact families perceive the quality of their family functioning to be lower than individuals from intact families. Differences in perceptions in the areas of attributions, intimacy, and coping processes were also examined. This study also explored whether family structure alone (intact versus nonintact) influences an individual's family functioning, attributional processes, coping skills, and level of intimacy. A total of 144 (109 females and 35 males) undergraduates from a Midwestern University participated in this study. Ninety-nine of the subjects reported that they came from an intact family while 45 identified as coming from a nonintact family. The majority of the sample was Caucasian (91%). ^ Based on an extensive literature review, the use of attribution theory in the field of parental divorce was found to be nonexistent. Therefore, three types of attributions (i.e., locus, stability, globality) were applied to this study in order to obtain more clarification on young adults' perceptions of their significant others' behaviors. Measures used in this study were the Family Assessment Device, Relationship Attribution Measure Psychosocial Intimacy Questionnaire, and the Ways of Coping - Revised Measure. ^ A multivariate t-test revealed that there were significant differences in family environment (i.e., problem solving and general family functioning) among young adults who come from intact and nonintact families. No significant differences were found between the intact and nonintact group in their attributions, intimacy, and coping processes. Results of hierarchical regressions found that general family functioning predicts a significant portion of the variance in one's (a) psychosocial intimacy, (b) attributions of stability and globality in his or her significant other's behavior, and (c) confrontive and escape-avoidance coping processes. ^ Implications of these findings to the field of parental divorce were addressed. Limitations of this study were noted (i.e., sample size and effect size) and addressed. Finally, suggestions for future research in this area were suggested. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Psychology, Clinical|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Besett-Alesch, Tricia M, "Family environment and attributions among adult children of intact and nonintact families" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9976976.