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Gender attitudes and adolescent functioning in the context of romantic relationships Joseph W. Dickson 1 Melinda S. Harper 2 Deborah P. Welsh 1 1 University.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender attitudes and adolescent functioning in the context of romantic relationships Joseph W. Dickson 1 Melinda S. Harper 2 Deborah P. Welsh 1 1 University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender attitudes and adolescent functioning in the context of romantic relationships Joseph W. Dickson 1 Melinda S. Harper 2 Deborah P. Welsh 1 1 University of Tennessee 2 Queens University of Charlotte

2 Abstract This study explores the relationship between gender attitudes and individual and relational outcomes among 208 adolescent romantic couples. Multilevel modeling indicated an association between gender attitudes and communication, relationship satisfaction, and depressive symptoms.

3 Purpose  To examine gender attitudes in the context of adolescent romantic relationships and to explore how these attitudes relate to individual and relational functioning.

4 Hypotheses 1) We predict adolescent females will report more egalitarian attitudes towards women than adolescent males. 2) Younger adolescents will report more traditional attitudes than older adolescents. 3) Traditional attitudes will be associated with poorer relationship quality and more depressive symptoms. 4) Greater discrepancies between couples’ gender attitudes will be associated with poorer relationship quality and poorer individual functioning.

5 Sample  The data for this project comes from The Study of Tennessee Adolescent Romantic Relationships (STARR), funded by NICHD  211 adolescent dating couples 1  102 couples between yrs old  109 couples between yrs old  Couples dating a minimum of 4 weeks  (range: 4 weeks – 260 weeks; median: 31.5 weeks) 1 Couples recruited from a previous study of 2201 high school students from 17 different high schools representing geographic (rural, urban, suburban) and economic diversity

6 Method  Couple members come to lab for 3 hours  Complete questionnaires (approx 1 hr)  Videotaped couple having 3 interaction tasks (approx ½ hr)  One member does video-recall procedure while second member completes remaining questionnaires (approx 1 hr)  Couple members switch (approx 1 hr)

7 Measures  Demographic Questionnaire  Attitude Toward Women Scale for Adolescents  Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale  Couples Communication Scale (Harper & Grello, in review)  Digital Video-Recall System  Modified Issues Checklist  The Measure of Relationship Experiences

8 Results at Individual Level  As hypothesized, males in this study reported more traditional gender attitudes toward women than females (males X=35.25, females X=39.08; p <.01).  Trend suggested that younger females were more traditional than older females in their gender attitudes t(411)= -1.90, p =.058.  Adolescents with non-traditional gender attitudes perceived more connection, less conflict, and less discomfort during an interaction than adolescents with traditional gender attitudes.  Adolescents who are traditional in their gender attitudes report lower levels of relationship satisfaction and more symptoms of depression

9 Results at Couples’ Level  The following trends were found:  Conflict  Middle  less conflict when female was more traditional than her boyfriend  Older  more conflict when female was more traditional than their boyfriends  Depression  Females  less traditional gender attitudes than their boyfriends reported more depressive symptoms compared to females who were more traditional in their gender attitudes than their boyfriends.

10 Conclusion  Males endorse more traditional attitudes than females  Adolescents with non-traditional attitudes perceive more connection, less conflict, and less discomfort when interacting with romantic partner.  Adolescents with traditional attitudes report poorer relationship satisfaction and more depressive symptoms.  Discrepancies in gender attitudes among couple members is not significantly associated with individual and relational quality.  Future work:  Longitudinal study  Implicit and Explicit attitudes

11 Means by Gender Males Females M SD M SD Gender attitudes Observational Communication Connection Conflict Discomfort Global communication Relationship Satisfaction Depressive Symptoms

12 Means by Age Middle (14-17) Late (17-21) M SD M SD Gender attitudes Observational Communication Connection Conflict Discomfort Global communication Relationship Satisfaction Depressive Symptoms _____________________________________________________________ Note. Attitudes toward women are reported in this table separately for middle and late adolescent couples for descriptive purposes. However, analyses used age as a continuous variable.

13 Correlations Variable Gender attitudes **-.21** **.10*-.10* 2. Age ** ** 3. Connection **-.38**.06.27**-.15** 4. Conflict **-.16**-.31**.21** 5. Discomfort **.16** 6. Global couple communication ** -.13* 7. Relationship Satisfaction ** 8. Depressive Symptomatology * p <.05. ** p <.01.


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