Open Access Dissertation
Date of Award
Emerging adulthood is a complex, multifaceted, unique and systems-oriented developmental period whereby individuals encounter a wide range of factors, each of which influence their subsequent adulthood outcomes (i.e., adaptive and maladaptive pathways). Given the importance of studying psychological adjustment and different types of loneliness in emerging adulthood, the purpose of the present study was to assess depressive symptomatology and family, social, and romantic loneliness in emerging adulthood. Specifically, the present study examined the impact of PARTheory (i.e., early relationship context), current attachment experiences in close relationships (i.e., current relationship context) and sense of mattering to family and friends (sense of awareness, sense of importance, and sense of reliance) on emerging adults' overall reports of family, social, and romantic loneliness and depressive symptomatology. In addition, this study explored whether coping styles (i.e., behavioral and cognitive context) and psychological adjustment (i.e., personality context) mediated the role between early family and current attachment relationship experiences and the emerging adults' reports of family, social, and romantic loneliness.
Emerging adults (N = 440) from Wayne State University were assessed using the Adult Parental Acceptance Rejection Questionnaire, Short Form (PARQ), Experiences in Close Relationships Scale Revised (ECR-R), Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults - Short Form (SELSA-S), Interpersonal Mattering Scale (IMS), Adult Personality Assessment Questionnaire (PAQ), Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D Scale), and Brief Coping Orientations to Problems Experienced Scale (Brief-COPE), along with several demographic variables (e.g., age, gender, grade level, employment status, marital status, social networking rating, group involvement rating, etc.).
Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that family loneliness was best predicted by total father acceptance and rejection, sense of awareness to family, sense of importance to family, psychological adjustment, and use of behavioral disengagement. Social loneliness was best predicted by sense of awareness to friends, sense of importance to friends, psychological adjustment, use of instrumental support, and use of behavioral disengagement. Romantic loneliness was found to be influenced by attachment security, psychological adjustment, and use of emotional support. Depressive symptomatology was best predicted by gender, total father acceptance and rejection, attachment security, sense of awareness to family, psychological adjustment, and use of self-blame. In addition, results from the mediation analyses indicated that psychological adjustment mediated the relation between maternal acceptance and social loneliness, whereas psychological adjustment mediated the relation between paternal acceptance and social loneliness and between paternal acceptance and family loneliness. Use of instrumental support was found to mediate the relation between attachment security and family loneliness and between attachment security and social loneliness. Use of self-blame was also found to mediate the relation between attachment security and family loneliness and between attachment security and social loneliness.
With result to attachment styles within emerging adulthood, results from the correlational and ANOVA analyses revealed that emerging adults with secure attachment styles reported a higher sense of mattering to family and friends and lower levels of depressive symptomatology, family loneliness, social loneliness, and romantic loneliness. In addition, security of attachment resulted in higher levels of use of instrumental support and use of emotional support and lower levels of behavioral disengagement, use of self-blame and use of self-distraction when coping within one's current relationships. With respect to gender, results from the correlational and ANOVA analyses revealed that females reported a greater sense of importance and reliance to family, a greater sense of reliance to friends, and higher levels of depressive symptomatology, family loneliness, and social loneliness whereas males reported higher levels of romantic loneliness. In addition, females reported higher levels of use of emotional support, use of instrumental support, and use of self-distraction. Finally, emerging adults who reported spending more time on social networking systems also reported higher levels of social loneliness whereas those who reported being highly involved in various groups reported lower levels of family loneliness. The results are discussed in light of past research and the implications for clinical work and future research.
Bernardon, Stephanie, "An examination of relationship experiences in relation to loneliness and depressive symptomatology in emerging adulthood" (2012). Wayne State University Dissertations. 564.