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PATERNAL/MATERNAL ATTACHMENT, PEER SUPPORT

SOCIAL EXPECTATIONS OF PEER INTERACTION, AND


DEPRESSIVE SYMPTOMS
Yih-Lan Liu
ABSTRACT
The aim of this study was to investigate how paternal and maternal attach-
ment might relate to adolescents' peer support, social expectations of peer
interaction, and depressive symptoms; 1,144 8th graders in Taiwan partici-
pated m the study. The relationships were examined through a structural
equating modeling. Consistent with theoretical formulations, adolescents with
secure attachments to parents reported.higher peer support, fewer negative
expectations, and fewer depressive symptoms. Paternal and maternal attach-
ment contribute almost equally to adolescents' social expectations of peer inter-
action and depressive symptoms. Attachment to the same-sex parent was
related to adolescents' perceived peer support.
Recent research on depression has articulated a cognitive-interper-
sonal approach in order to conceptuaUze depression in adulthood and
childhood. According to this model of depression, lack of security may
create enduring vulnerabilities to depression or behavioral problems
by impairing an individual's ability both to participate in satisfying
social relationships and to appropriately understand and evaluate so-
cial interactions (Mongrain, 1998; Barrett & Holmes, 2001). The devel-
opniental origin of maladaptive cognitions is believed to stem from
childhood experiences (Cummings & Cicchetti, 1990; Hammen,
1992a,b). Attachment theory postulates that early relationship experi-
ences will provide a child with cognitive working models of self, rela-
tionships, and others in general. These internal structures contain
assumptions and expectations about self and others in a social context
and thus regulate the processing of information about interpersonal
events and relationships (Bowlby, 1979; 1981).
The authors would like to thank the National Science Council ofthe Republic
of China for financially supporting this research imder Contract No NSC
89-2413H-143-001.
Reprint requests to Yih-Lan Liu, Center for Teacher Education, National
Tsing-Hua University, 101 Sec. 2 Kuang-Fu Rd. Hsinchu, 300, Taiwan, R.O.C.
E-mail: ylliu@mx.nthu.edu.tw
ADOLESCENCE, Vol. 41, No. 164, Winter 2006
Libra Publishers, Inc., 3089C Clairemont Dr., PMB 383, San Diego, CA 92117
Evidence has indicated that the quality of attachment experiences
is associated with a variety of indices of adaptive psychological func-
tioning (Hammen et al., 1995; Kenny et al., 1998; Muris et al., 2001;
Papini & Roggman, 1992; Tumer-Cobb, et al., 2002; Wei, Heppner, &
Mallinckrodt, 2003). The notion of internal and interpersonal models
may be useful in elucidating pathways to emotional or behavioral ad-
justment. Interpersonal schema may filter information about past rela-
tionships to help appraise emotional consequences of present
interactions. People with dysfunctional interpersonal schema (insecure
attachments) which resulted from experiences of parental rejection or
inconsistency in early childhood may believe that they are not worthy
and therefore not expect responsiveness from others (Hammen et al.,
1995). They also tend to report a higher level of anxiety and unfulfilled
hopes, and to withdraw from social interaction or to be negative and
uncertain in social interactions (Barrett & Holmes, 2001; Feeney &
NoUer, 1990). Allen and Hauser (1996) suggested that insecure attach-
ments cause defensive exclusion and distortion of memories. Individu-
als in this state of mind may find it difficvilt to behave fiexibly and
nondefensively in other social interactions. They have negative expec-
tations of themselves and others in interactions, which are potentially
self-fulfilling and may reduce opportunities for positive social inter-
action.
In addition to acknowledging and interpreting interpersonal situa-
tions, the internal working model also organizes rules of emotional
self-regulation and memory access to facilitate responsiveness and rec-
ognize availability of attachment figures (Kobak et al., 1993). This view
suggests that working models should infiuence a person's perception
ofthe efficacy of supportive transactions and relationships. Kobak and
Sceery (1988) indicated that secure persons are more effective in turn-
ing to others for support in times of distress. Inversely, insecure per-
sons are less likely to tum to others for support because they are either
overwhelmed by negative emotional arousal or restricted in acknowl-
edgement of their feeUngs. Other studies also confirmed the belief that
secure attachment cognitions are associated with enhanced levels of
perceived social support from both family and friends. In contrast,
insecure attachment is related to problems in relationships (Blain,
Thompson, Whiffen, 1993; Herzberg et al., 1999; Sarason et al., 1991;
Wallace & Vaux, 1993). Herzberg et al. (1999) pointed out that securely
attached students not only believe that their social environment is
more supportive in a global sense, but also reported that their signifi-
cant others engaged in greater numbers of specific support behaviors.
In this context, perception ofthe availability of others as a resource
706
contributes to a person's self-regulation of distress (Priel & Shamai,
1995). The perceived availability of social support may play an im-
portant role in predicting coping efficacy, well-being, and psychological
health (Hammen et al., 1995; Kenny et al., 1998; Muris et al., 2001;
Papini & Roggman, 1992; Turner-Cobb et al., 2002; Wei, Heppner, &
Mallinckrodt, 2003).
While intemal working models of attachment are presumed to help
guide the active processing of interpersonal information, stable beliefs
or expectations about relationships are expected to expand across rela-
tionships. As Bowlby suggested, once a child's intemal working is de-
veloped, the models would be relatively stable and therefore predict
other closer relationships later in life (Bowlby, 1973), especially if those
relationships are similar in aspect to an attachment relationship (Ains-
worth, 1990). Empirical evidence has indicated that parent-child at-
tachment pattems are associated with interpretations of friends'
behavior and interaction pattems. Allen and Land (1999) suggested
that the continuity of parents' availabihty as attachment figures may
facihtate offsprings' ability to explore (emotionally), to separate from
them, and to form close relationships with peers. Secure attachment
with the mother assists the child to regulate negative emotions con-
stmctively, to express more positive feelings, and thus to interact with
peers more effectively (Kobak & Sceery, 1988) Children with negative
representations of attachment figures were reported to display lower
perceptions of interpersonal acceptance and lower appraisals of family/
peer support, more negative and rigid interpretations, and more nega-
tive expectations of matemal/peer response in hypothetical social in-
teractions (Rudolph, Hammen, & Burge, 1995; Zimmermann, 2004).
Lack of support and acceptance tends to cause depression in children
or adolescents (Chu, 1996; Feldman, Rubenstein, & Rubin, 1988).
Though Bowlby (1969/1982) assumed that the mother is the primary
attachment figure, researchers have acknowledged the importance of
other attachment figures, especially fathers. Attachment to fathers
versus attachments to mothers has been found to make a differential
contribution to individual psychological functioning and adjustment
(Rice, Cunningham, & Young, 1997; Kenny & Gallagher, 2002; Young-
blade & Belsky, 1992; Youngblade et al., 1993). Generally speaking,
attachment to mothers has been reported to be associated with chil-
dren's or adolescents' peer acceptance and relationships (Kerns,
Klepac, & Cole, 1996; Markiewicz, Doyle, & Brendgen, 2001; Young-
blade et al., 1993; Zimmermann, 2004). However, the study of attach-
ment to fathers has produced inconsistent findings. Youngblade et al.
(1993), observing five-year olds interacting with their friends, found
707
that children with attachment security to fathers were rated to be
less cooperative, less positive, and less coordinated with their friends.
Similarly, Markiewicz, Doyle, & Brendgen (2001) reported that attach-
ment security to fathers was inversely related to attachment security
to friends. In contrast, Zimmermann (2004) reported a positive associa-
tion between support attachment experiences with fathers and friend-
ship quality and concepts. Roberts (1994) also found that fathers'
comforting and acceptance of their children's emotional distress are
linked with more positive peer relationships. The role of paternal at-
tachment in adolescents' peer relationships requires further clarifi-
cation.
In a review of relevant studies regarding attachment and parent-
peer relations in Taiwan, only Sun (1994,1997a,b), using the Inventory
of Parent and Peer Attachment, conducted a series of studies investi-
gating the infiuence of attachment relationship with parents and peers
on adolescents' problem behaviors (1994) and drug attitudes (1997a).
Her findings indicated that insecure attachment with parents was as-
sociated with more depression/pessimism, anti-authority behavior,
anxiety, and liberal attitudes toward drug usage. However, how paren-
tal attachment representations affect adolescents' peer relationships
and their consequent adjustment is still not clarified. The current
study was designed to investigate how attachment relationships with
fathers and mothers related to adolescents' perceived peer support and
social expectations of peer interactions, and how the relations were
further associated with their depressive symptoms. The model hypoth-
esized that secure attachment to fathers and to mothers would posi-
tively predict perceived peer support but negatively predict negative
social expectations of peer interaction; perceived peer support would
be negatively associated with depressive symptoms, whereas negative
social expectation of peer interaction would be positively associated
with depressive sjrmptoms. Finally, gender differences were examined
to see whether attachment relationships with fathers or with mothers
have differential infiuences over adolescent boys' or girls' peer relation-
ships as well as their depressive sjnmptoms. Recent research has indi-
cated that the patterns of developmental change in attachment
relationships during adolescence are infiuenced by gender of the at-
tachment figure and by gender of the adolescent (Buist et al., 2002).
It was expected that adolescent boys would display different pattems
of relationship pathways than would girls.
708
METHOD
Participants were 1,289 8th graders from eastem Taiwan who were
selected by randomly stratified cluster sampling; 1,144 questionnaires
were completed (Boys, N = 622; Giris, N = 522). Data were collected
in school settings from March to June, 2001. Participants were admin-
istered a series of measures in groups: Children Depression inventory
(CDI; Kovacs, 1981), Child's Perception of Security (CPS; Kems et al.,
1996), Children's Expectation of Social Behavior Questionnaire
(CESBQ, Rudolph et al., 1995), and Perceived Social Support from.
Friends (PSSFr, Procidano & Heller, 1983). The adolescents were
found to live in the following family structures: parents living together,
76.7%; divorced, 10.1%; separated, 5.7%; widowed, 5.1%; remarried,
2.4%. The average age of the participants was 14.
The scales on parental attachment, perceived social support, social
expectations, and depression were originally in English. All question-
naires were translated into Chinese prior to administration. Three
bilingual Chinese scholars independently translated each item and
then compared translations to resolve any disagreements. Through
primary data analyses, items which have neghgible correlations with
the scales were eliminated, and the intemal consistencies ofthe ques-
tionnaires were all modified to be approximately .75.
CDI is the most widely employed self-report measure of depression
in children. It consists of 27 items designed to measure cognitive, af-
fective, and behavioral symptoms of depression two weeks prior to the
test. Each item lists three statements that are scored as 1 through 2,
indicating the varying levels of symptom security. The CDI has been
ascertained to have adequate intemal consistency, test-retest reliabil-
ity, and acceptable convergent validity in Westem countries. In Tai-
wan, in addition to Liu (2003), Chen and Huang (1998) translated the
CDI into Chinese and their research team applied the scale to children
and adolescents including 3rd to 6th grade community children versus
children with cleft lip palate (Huang et al., 1999), and community
adolescents and adolescents exhibiting delinquent behaviors (Huang,
1998). Their findings indicated that the 3-week test-retest reliability
was .53-.54 and the intemal consistency was .80-.86, showing good
reliability and constmct validity. The rehability of 1-month test-retest
and intemal consistency were .69 and .88, respectively.
The CPS is a self-report instmment which includes 15 items measur-
ing the degree to which children believe in an attachment figure's
responsiveness and availabihty, children's tendency to rely on the at-
tachment figure in times of stress, and their reported ease and interest
709
in communicating with the attachment figure. Items were rated using
Hater's (1982) "Some kids Other kids . . ." format. Children were
told to indicate which statement was more like them and then to indi-
cate whether this statement was really true for them or sort of tme
for them. Each item on the scale was scored from 1 to 4, with higher
scores indicating a more secure parent-child attachment. Liao (2001)
had read this scale to 134 6th graders in Taiwan and found that partici-
pants could fully understand the content. The internal reliability of
Cronbach's coefficient is .84 in her study. For the present study, the
wording of the scale was revised to be more suitable for adolescents.
For instance, "some kids feel it is easy to trust their fathers/mothers"
is revised as "some teenagers feel it is easy to trust their fathers/
mothers." Participants completed the scales of the father version and
the mother version. Rehabihty analysis showed that item 11 "some
teenagers wish to be more close to their fathers/mothers" and item 15
"some teenagers wish their fathers/mothers could provide more help
for their troubles" had negligible correlations with the total scale. The
two items were then deleted and the Cronbach's reliability coefficients
of the scales were .79 for the father version and .77 for the mother
version.
The CESBQ examines children's predictions about the outcomes of
interpersonal encounters. Fifteen vignettes describe hypothetical
transactions between children and peers. Each item is followed by
three alternatives refiecting either supportive, indifferent or overtly
hostile interpersonal responses by others (scored as 0,1, and 2, respec-
tively). The 15 peer items are summed to form the score that represents
the children's expectations in these domains. A sample item is as fol-
lows: "You see some children playing a game during recess one day, so
you go over and ask if you can play with them. What do you think that
they might say? (a) They might say mean things about me and tell me
to go away (hostile); (b) They might just act like I wasn't even there
and keep playing (indifferent); (c) They might tell me to join in the
game and make room for me (positive). Since there might be cultural
differences in peer interaction, prior to the pilot study, the thirty vi-
gnettes were read to an 8th grader to see whether the described situa-
tion in the original scale was common or reasonable in Taiwan. Minor
modifications were made to the situations described in some items.
The scale has a range from 0 to 30 with higher scores indicating more
negative expectations. The Cronbach's reliability coefficient for
CESBQ-peer was .82.
The PSS-Fr scale consists of 20 items relating to the degree of inti-
macy and support provided by subjects' friends (e.g., "My friends enjoy
710
hearing about what I think," "I rely on my friends for emotional sup-
port"). For each of the statements on the two subscales, subjects are
provided with three options: yes, no, and don't know. Depending on the
direction ofthe item, a yes or no is assigned 1 point, indicating support,
or 0 points, indicating no support. Thus, each scale has a range from
0 to 40 with higher scores indicating more support. The Cronbach's
reliabihty coefficient for PSS-Fr is .83.
RESULTS
Preliminary Analyses
Means and standard deviations for all variables were calculated sep-
arately for boys and girls (see Table 1), and two-tailed t tests were
performed. Compared with boys, girls reported higher levels of CDI
scores, f(1140) = -2.60, p < .01, more friend support, f(1140) = -7. 03,
p < .001, and less negative social expectations from peers, ^(1140) =
8.56, p < . 0 0 1 .
Intercorrelations for attachment to parents and other observed vari-
ables are shown in Table 2. Secure attachments to father as well as to
mother were positively correlated with social support from friends, and
negatively correlated with social expectations of peer interaction and
Table 1
Means and SDfor Attachment. Peer Support, Peer Ejqpectations, and Depression
Boys Girls t-value
Mean SD Mean SD
Patemal Attachment 38.33 6.66 38.06 7.24 ^
Matemal Attachment 39.81 6.20 39.65 7.10 .67
Peer Expectationis **
7.50 5.37 4.93 4.67 8 66
Peer Support
23.91 6.51 26.64 6.53 -7 03
12.45- 7.55 13.56 6.66 - 2. 63"
*p<.05. **p<.01. **p< .001. ' ' '
711
TABLE 2
Correlations Among Attachment, Peer Expectations, Peer Support and Depression.
1. Patemal Attachment _ 0. 47*" -0.15*** 0.11*** -0.19**
2. Matemal Attachment _ -0.17*** 0.09** - 0 . 1 9 "
3. Peer Expectations _ 4)38*** 0 7 5 "
4. Peer Support _ _Q 42 *"
5. Depression
*p< .05. **p< .01. ***p< .001.
de pr e s s i ve s ympt oms (al l p s < .05). Depr es s i ve s ympt oms we r e posi -
t i vel y cor r el at ed wi t h social expect at i on of pe e r i nt e r a c t i on, b u t nega-
t i vel y cor r el at ed wi t h pe e r s uppor t . Pe e r s uppor t showed a n i nve r s e
cor r el at i on wi t h social expect at i ons of pe e r i nt e r a c t i on (p < . 001).
To e xa mi ne t h e r e l a t i ons a mong sel f - r epor t s of p a r e n t a l a t t a c h me n t ,
pe e r s uppor t , social expect at i ons of pe e r i nt e r a c t i ve , a n d de pr e s s i ve
s ympt oms , s t r u c t u r a l e qua t i on model i ng ( LI SREL 8) wa s us e d a n d t h e
t he or e t i c a l model wa s e va l ua t e d s e pa r a t e l y for boys a n d gi r l s. Fi g u r e
1 r e p r e s e n t s t h e t heor et i cal model .
For gi r l s , t h e i ni t i a l specification yi el ded a s ome wha t low over al l
model fit, x ' = 27. 3 1, p = 0.0, CFI = . 95, I FI = . 95, RMSEA = . 125;
t h e r e s i dua l s a n d LI SREL modi fi cat i on i ndi ces s ugge s t e d t h e i ncl us i on
i n t h e model of a di r ect r egr es s i on p a t h from s ecur e ma t e r n a l a t t a c h -
me n t t o depr es s i ve s ympt oms . Th e i ncl usi on i n t h e model o f t h e r e gr e s -
si on p a t h r e s u l t s i n a b e t t e r model fit, x ' = 7 0 1 , p = 0. 03 , CFI =
. 99, I FI = . 99, RMSEA = . 07. Mor eover , t h e r e s i dua l s a n d LI SREL
modi fi cat i on i ndi ces s ugges t ed t h a t t h e model st i l l coul d be i mpr oved.
Th e i ncl usi on i n t h e model of a di r ect r egr es s i on p a t h from s ecur e
a t t a c h me n t t o f a t he r s t o depr es s i ve s ympt oms e n d s i n a n excel l ent
model fit, x ' = 00, p = 1.0, CFI = 1.0, I FI = 1.0, RMSEA = . 000. I n
l i ne wi t h t h e t heor et i cal expect at i on, s ecur e a t t a c h me n t t o mo t h e r s
posi t i vel y pr edi ct ed pe e r s uppor t a n d negat i vel y pr edi ct ed ne ga t i ve
712
Maternal
attachment
Paternal
attachment
Peer
expectations
\ ^ ^
Depression
Peer
support
Figure 1. The theoretical model linking maternal attachment, patemal
attachment, social expectations of peer interaction, peer support and depression
expectations of peer interaction. Perceived peer support and negative
expectations of peer interaction significantly predicted depressive
symptoms. Secure attachment to fathers displayed a similar pattern
only that parental attachment correlated with peer support with no
significance. Secure attachments to fathers and to mothers showed
direct corrielations with depressive symptoms.
For boys, the initial model specification revealed an acceptable over-
all model fit to the data, x^ = 8.28, p = 0.041, CFI = .99, IFI = .99,
RMSEA = .053. Inspection ofthe residuals and LISREL modification
indices suggested an additional relation between secure attachment to
mothers and depressive symptoms. After inclusion of this regression
path, the results showed excellent model fit, x^ = 1.77, p = .42, CFI =
1.0, IFI = 1.0, RMSEA = .000. Though the residuals and L,ISREL
modification indices also suggested a relation between secure attach-
ment to fathers and depressive symptoms, inclusion in the model of
this regression path improved the model fit only a little, A x^ = 1.77,
Adf= 1. Thus, the former model is more appropriate to explain the
relationships among observed variables. This indicates that secure at-
tachment to fathers significantly and positively predicted peer support
but negatively predicted negative expectation of peer interaction. Se-
cure attachment to mothers not only significantly related to negative
expectations of peer interaction, but also related directly to depressive
symptoms. Peer support and negative expectations of peer interaction
significantly predicted depressive symptoms. The standardized regres-
sion paths among the variables obtained for the model are presented
in Figure 2 and Figure 3. The initial plan of analyses was to conduct
multiple sample analyses on the same theoretical model and to deter-
713
Matemal
attachment
Peer
expectations
0.47
\
Patemal
attachment
Depression
Figure 2. Empirical model linking maternal attachment, patemal attachment,
social expectations of peer interaction, peer support and depressionfemale
model Standardized rejp^ession coeflBaeaots based on LISREL
Maximum-Likelihood estimates are presented. For simplicity, coefficients that are
not significant at p <.01 and correlation coefBcients arc not presented.
0.47
\
Matemal
attachment
Patemal
attachment
Peer
expectations
Peer
support
0.30
-0.39
Figure 3. Empirical model linking matemal attachment, patemal attachnient,
social expectations of peer interaction, peer support and depressionmale model.
Standardized regression coefficients based on LISREL Maximum-Likelihood
estimates are presented. For simplicity, coefficients that are not significant at p
<.O1 and correlation coefficients are not presented.
714
mine whether gender differences existed among path coefficients. How-
ever, primary analyses indicated that boys and girls demonstrated
different model paths, and there is no need for multiple sample analy-
ses. Overall, parental attachment, peer support, and social expecta-
tions of peer interaction jointly explained 29% of the variance in
depressive sjmiptoms for girls, and 21% ofthe variance for boys.
DISCUSSION
This study investigated the relationships among parental attach-
ment, interpersonal cognition of peer interaction, and adolescent de-
pressive symptoms. The results mostly supported the proposed model,
revealing that patemal as well as matemal attachment significantly
predicted adolescent depressive symptoms, either by a direct path or
by means of peer support and social expectations of peer interaction.
The findings were consistent with previous research (Barrett &
Holmes, 2001; Feeney & Noller, 1990; Hammen et al., 1995; Herzberg
et al., 1999; Kobak et al., 1993) in that individuals with secure attach-
ment to parents tended to perceive more supportive peer relationships
and were less likely to interpret rejection and disappointment in peer
interaction. Individuals with more perceived peer support and less
negative expectation of peer interaction were associated with fewer
depressive symptoms. Moreover, as expected, gender differences ofthe
relation pathways were obtained. Secure attachment to fathers as well
as to mothers significantly predicted negative expectations of peer in-
teraction for both sexes of the adolescents. However, secure attach-
ment to the same sex of the parents related to perceived peer support
only for the same sex ofthe adolescents. Secure attachment to fathers
and to mothers showed a direct path to depressive symptoms for girls,
but only secure attachment to mothers had a direct path to depressive
symptom for boys. The findings raise an issue: What is the relative
importance of the two attachments in peer relations and depressive
symptoms for adolescent boys and adolescent girls?
In regard to depressive symptoms for adolescent girls, direct links
between patemal attachment and depression and between matemal
attachment and depression revealed that adolescent girls tend to use
patemal and matemal attachment as the secure sources of psychoso-
cial distress. In contrast, a direct link between matemal attachment
and depressive symptoms for adolescent boys suggested that security
with fathers might be less influential in predicting adolescent boys'
depressive symptoms. Relational theory suggests that relationships
715
are more important in the lives of girls (Brown & Gilligan, 1992) and
they are more committed than are boys to sustaining connections. Evi-
dence indicates that adolescent girls described their parentsd attach-
ment more as consistent and stable than did boys (Kermy, Lomax,
Brabeck, & Fife, 1998). Besides, a direct link between attachment and
depression implies that parental attachments relate to adolescents'
depressive sjnnptoms in a number of ways beside those of peer support
and peer expectation assessed here. Studies have indicated that the
quality of current parent-child interaction contributes greatly to ado-
lescents' well-being. However, during adolescence, mothers knows
more about their children and are more involved, whereas fathers are
more distant and less involved (Shulman & SeifFge-Krenk, 1997; Hos-
ley & Montemayor, 1997)^ Kenny et al. (1998), in their two-year assess-
ment regarding the relationships between parental attachment and
adolescent well-being, have noted that when boys feel depressed and
negative about self, their interactions with their fathers become more
negative. Compared to women, men are less tolerant ofthe expression
of negative and depressive affect (Leadbeater et al., 1995). Fathers may
feel uncomfortable when their son experience distress, which might
contribute to negative or distancing father-child relationships. Con-
versely, mothers may be more willing to provide support to their dis-
tressed sons; therefore mother-child relationships do not change. In
this respect, mothers provide better stress-buffering bases for adoles-
cent boys.
Furthermore, concerning the relative importance of patemal and
matemal attachment on adolescent peer relationships, the findings
are controversial. With regard to social expectation of peer interaction,
patemal and matemal attachment were significantly associated for
both genders, suggesting that adolescents with secure attachment to
both parents were more likely to consider ambivalent or provoking
interpersonal situations to be supportive or friendly. Given that the
positive function of secure attachment with mothers in the child's so-
cial competences in peer interaction is well recognized (Kems,
Klepac, & Cole, 1996; Markiewicz, Doyle, & Brendgen, 2001; Young-
blade et al., 1993), our results are consistent with those of Zimmer-
mann (2004) and Roberts (1994). Contreras and Kems (2000) reported
that father-child attachment security was correlated with child coping,
with coping linked to behavior regulation with peers, and with teach-
ers' reports of children's competence with peers. Dekovic and Meeus
(1997), in studying adolescent peer relations, found that father behav-
ior toward adolescents is even of greater importance than mother be-
havior with reference to development of self-concept and peer relations.
They suggested that in traditional families, fathers are given the func-
716
tion of socializing children to modern society. Fathers in their role of
link to the outside world increase in importance as a socializing agent
for adolescents' entrance to society. In the present study, fathers did
not make more of a contribution to peer interaction and depressive
symptoms than did mothers (differences in beta weights are not large,
see Figures 1 and 2), but it did suggest that fathers' role in social
expectation of peer interaction cannot be neglected.
Contrary to expectations, patemal and matemal attachment did not
predict adolescents' perceived peer support equally. As indicated, per-
ceived peer support was merely related to attachment to the same-sex
parent. Blain, Thompson, and Whiffen (1993) proposed that perceived
social support could be conceptualized as an observable manifestation
of attachment styles because both are defined as dependent on beliefs
about the availability of significant others. Buist et al. (2002) suggested
that same-sex attachment relationships generally are of higher quality
than different-sex attachment. Despite the fact that adolescents tend
to deidealize their parents for the purpose of seeking autonomy and
identity, they still strongly use their parents as reference points con-
ceming important life choices (Youniss & Somlar, 1985), especially the
same-sex parent. In this respect, attachment to the same-sex parent
is expected to have a stronger relation with peer support compared to
the opposite-sex parent. Yet, the argument is tentative because the
relation between attachment to the same parent and peer support is
significant but not strong enough (all Ps less than .15). Further studies
are needed to clarify the relation.
Although some authors suggest that attachment security with par-
ents may decrease during adolescence (Papini & Roggman, 1992), the
present study shows that adolescents' perceptions of parental avail-
ability are important throughout this period. In particular, attachment
to father seems to be playing a more important role in influencing peer
relations than previously believed. The present study has provided
some contributions to understanding the relationships among working
models of attachment, social support, social expectations, and depres-
sion, yet its limitations should be mentioned. First, research on parent-
peer relationships have reported that fathers and mothers have unique
contribution to their offsprings' peer relationships. For example, at-
tachment to mothers is more related to children's friendship qualities,
peer popularity, distress regulation, and self-esteem, whereas attach-
ment to fathers is more related to conflict resolution and social compe-
tence with peers (Parke et al., 2004). Nevertheless, these studies
mostly concem elementary school-aged children. As is known, friends
gradually become the life center for adolescents, but parents do not
717
therefore decrease their influence on them. The exact nature of mother-
child and father-child relationships in influencing their peer relation-
ships and adjustment requires further study. Second, self-report mea-
sures were used in the current study and it is known that they are
susceptible to social desirability and to current affective states (Lewin-
sohn & Rosenbaum, 1987). Further studies could include measures of
parental perceptions of adolescents' well-being as well as attachment
to adolescent sons and daughters.
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