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Health Commun. 2009 Jan;24(1):82-94. doi: 10.1080/10410230802607024.

Cognitive flexibility as a mediator of family communication environments and young adults' well-being.

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Department of Communication Studies, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045-7574, USA.


In this study, cognitive flexibility was tested as a mediator of family communication environments (i.e., family expressiveness, structural traditionalism, and avoidance of conflict) and young adults' well-being (i.e., self-esteem, mental health, and physical health). Participants included 395 young adults from first-marriage and postdivorce families. Using structural equation modeling, the results revealed that family expressiveness positively predicted young adults' cognitive flexibility, whereas avoidance of conflict emerged as a negative predictor. Cognitive flexibility, in turn, fully mediated the influence of both expressiveness and avoidance of conflict on well-being. Although structural traditionalism did not predict cognitive flexibility, it did have a direct, inverse effect on young adults' well-being. Among the more important implications of this study is the finding that structural traditionalism and avoidance of conflict, 2 aspects of a conformity orientation in families, generate different effects (i.e., direct vs. indirect) on young adult's well-being.

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