Emotional autonomy redux: revisiting Ryan and Lynch.


Lamborn SD, Steinberg L.


Child Dev. 1993 Apr;64(2):483-99.



Ryan and Lynch have suggested that emotional autonomy in adolescence, at least as indexed by Steinberg and Silverberg's Emotional Autonomy Scale, is associated with poor family functioning and might therefore be better conceptualized as detachment. In the present study, we contrast adjustment scores among adolescents who differ in both emotional autonomy and perceptions of support in their relationship with their parents. Several thousand adolescents aged 14 through 18 completed Steinberg and Silverberg's emotional autonomy measure, a measure designed to assess the provision of support in the parent-adolescent relationship, and a number of standardized measures of adjustment. Adolescents high in emotional autonomy but low in relationship support show problematic adjustment profiles, consistent with Ryan and Lynch's interpretation of the measure as an index of detachment. Although adolescents high in both emotional autonomy and relationship support report more internal distress and behavior problems than some adolescents, they score higher on measures of psychosocial development and academic competence than their peers. Emotional autonomy in the context of a supportive adolescent-parent relationship may carry some developmental advantages as well as some deleterious consequences suggested by Ryan and Lynch.


8477630 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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