Dating and Psychological Maltreatment: Daily and Prospective Associations with Late Adolescents' Emotional Well-Being, Self-Esteem and Romantic Competence
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Dating aggression in the form of psychological maltreatment is common and has been linked to socioemotional problems, such as elevated depressive symptoms and low self-esteem. In the current research program of late adolescents (ages 17 to 22) who were in steady romantic relationships, the first aim was to consider not only how psychological maltreatment may impact on depressive symptoms and self-esteem, but also how it may undermine self-perceptions of romantic competence, a key developmental task of this time of life. These associations were examined both concurrently (N = 139) and prospectively (n = 61). The second aim was to investigate buffers and vulnerability factors in these linkages and drawing from social support and attachment theories, friend and family support and attachment orientation were tested as moderators in these associations (N = 139). The third aim was to examine how partner maltreatment is associated with daily interpersonal experiences, affect, and interpersonal sensitivity (defined as greater affective reactions to day-to-day interpersonal hassles) through the inclusion of a daily diary study (n = 67). Findings showed that adolescents who report being more coerced, overly controlled and verbally abused by a romantic partner have deficits in emotional functioning (depressive symptoms and affect) and perceptions of their romantic competence. Additionally, lower family support and insecure attachment orientation contribute to depressive symptoms directly, and avoidant attachment and friend support interact with partner maltreatment to better identify adolescents most at risk of low perceptions of their self-esteem and romantic competence. Despite popular belief that relationship functioning is of greater importance to a female’s wellbeing compared to a male’s wellbeing, males and females experienced similar psychological sequalae associated with partner maltreatment. Finally, diary study findings showed that partner maltreatment occurs along with greater romantic hassles and more interpersonal sensitivity to these hassles. The effects of partner maltreatment were also found to spill over in to relationships with friends and families by either being associated with more hassles and greater reaction to hassles or fewer uplifts and less reaction to uplifts. Implications for attachment theory and relationship intervention programs are discussed.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Applied Psychology
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