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Child Dev. 1985 Apr;56(2):415-28.

Patterns of interaction in family relationships and the development of identity exploration in adolescence.


The purpose of this research was to develop a model of individuation in family relationships that focuses on communication processes, and to assess the links between them and adolescent identity exploration. Expressions of the 4 dimensions of the model--self-assertion, separateness, permeability, and mutuality--were predicted to be positively associated with identity exploration in adolescents. A sample of 84 Caucasian, middle-class, 2-parent families, each including an adolescent and 1 or 2 siblings, was observed in a Family Interaction Task designed to elicit the expression and coordination of a variety of points of view. Multiple regression analyses revealed differentiated results concerning father-son, father-daughter, mother-son, mother-daughter, and marital relationships as well as both positive and negative contributions of communication variables to identity exploration when verbal ability and sociability were controlled. Results are discussed in terms of recent formulations of the progressive redefinition of the parent-child relationship during adolescence.

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