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J Fam Psychol. 2014 Jun;28(3):407-14. doi: 10.1037/a0036809.

The relations of family members' unique and shared perspectives of family dysfunction to dyad adjustment.

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  • 1T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University.
  • 2Department of Psychology, University of Illinois.
  • 3Child and Family Research Section, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Among a community sample of families (N = 128), this study examined how family members' shared and unique perspectives of family dysfunction relate to dyad members' shared views of dyad adjustment within adolescent-mother, adolescent-father, and mother-father dyads. Independent of a family's family perspective (shared perspective of family dysfunction), the adolescent's unique perspective was associated with lower security and higher conflict with both mother and father; the father's unique perspective was associated with lower security and higher conflict with the adolescent, as well as lower marital quality with mother; and the mother unique perspective was associated with lower marital quality with the father. Moreover, for adolescent-parent dyads, compared with the parent unique perspective, the adolescent unique perspective was more strongly associated with dyad adjustment. These findings indicate that both shared and unique views of the family system-the adolescent's unique view in particular-independently relate to the health of family subsystems. They also suggest that research, as well as therapeutic interventions, that focus on just the shared view of the family may miss important elements of family dysfunction.

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