The effects of differential attachment to mothers and fathers on adolescent identity

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this study was to clarify the effects of differential attachment to mothers and fathers on male and female identity development. A total of 135 male and 145 female late adolescents responded to the revised Inventory of Parent Attachment (Armsden & Greenberg, 1989) and the Extended Version of the Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status (Bennion & Adams, 1986). Factor analysis revealed one factor for the attachment measures, and reliability estimates verified their psychometric adequacy. Participants reported higher attachment to mother than to father. The need for separate measures of attachment to each parent was confirmed by correlational analysis. Gender effects were noted for identity status but none were found for attachment. Consideration of these results led to the suggestion that males and females have different agendas for identity resolution. Regression analysis indicated an association between discrete same-sex and cross-sex attachments to parents and identity status classifications. The findings suggest that future research continue to explore the effects of differential attachment on identity development.