Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The present investigation attempted to: (1) increase understanding of stepfamily versus nuclear family normative self-report; (2) predict stepfamily member self-report of family functioning in the first year of remarriage on the basis of contextual, individual, dyadic, and family characteristics and ideals at the time of family formation; and (3) examine the predictive utility of perceived versus actual family member discrepancy scores.;Members of 25 well-functioning, newly formed stepfamilies and 26 demographically similar first marriage families with children between the ages of 12 to 16 were asked to rate family, dyadic, and individual functioning on standardized questionnaires. The Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scales, the Family Sense of Coherence Scales, the Dyadic Adjustment Scale and the Parent Adolescent Communication Scale were completed by mother, father, and adolescent during two home visits over an 8 month period, with the first visit of stepfamilies occurring during the first year of family formation.;As predicted, all stepfamily members reported lower (but nonclinical) levels of family cohesion. Stepfamilies also indicated that they were less able to clarify problems as a family and to find meaning in the family unit. Marital relations did not differ in the two family types. Poorer communication between adolescents and their mothers and fathers was reported from both sides of the dyad in the stepfamilies. Eight months later scores changed little, although the biological parent-adolescent relationship no longer differed significantly across groups. Contrary to previous investigations which did not distinguish clinical and nonclinical stepfamilies, stepfamily members did not report dissatisfaction with their lowered levels of cohesion, possibly indicating a realistic expectation of stepfamily normative functioning. Marital, parent-adolescent, and family level variables were found to relate significantly. Concordance between family member report was high in both groups, with predictable intermember differences in mean scores. As predicted, mothers tended to perceive and desire the most family cohesion, adolescents the least. Family cohesion was not supplanted by a measure of personal autonomy and appears to have incremental utility in family study. Substantial prediction of reported family cohesion was achieved by accounting for familial stressors, dyadic relations within the family, and intermember consensus. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.