The relationship of age and gender to social support perceptions of youth in a residential treatment center setting

Karen A Muller, Pace University

Abstract

The development of social roles and relationships is an important process that is ongoing throughout the lifespan. Weiss theorized that individuals seek specific social provisions or types of support in their relationships with others. Weiss' theory, although developed with adults in mind, has been adopted by several researchers to provide a conceptual framework for investigating children's relationships. Buhrmester and Furman use Weiss' theory as a starting point in developing the Network of Relationship Inventory (NRI), which assesses relationships with regard to social provisions such as companionship, intimacy, affection, instrumental aid, reliable alliance, nurturance and admiration. The NRI has been used in research with varied populations, but not with youngsters in residential treatment. ^ Residential treatment is one resource for children whose emotional, behavioral and family problems preclude them from successfully living in their own home or a foster home setting. Frequently these children experienced abuse or neglect in their families of origin. This study investigates how youngsters, with these types of personal problems and histories, perceive their relationships to significant others. More specifically, this study examines youth in a residential treatment setting with regard to their perceptions of supportive relationships. ^ Twenty-six students at a residential treatment center in Westchester county, New York were given a version of the NRI to assess their perceptions of relationships with family members, peers, and non-relative adults. Significant differences were found in how provisions were perceived. Adolescents' ratings were dependent on which provision (e.g., companionship, intimacy, affection, instrumental aid, reliable alliance, nurturance and admiration) was being rated. Adolescents' ratings were a function of the combined effects of provisions and relationships. Younger adolescents are more likely than older adolescents to perceive important people in their lives as affectionate. There were no significant differences based on gender of the early adolescent. “Mother” was viewed as the most important person by the majority of respondents and Reliable Alliance the lasting quality of the relationship, was viewed as the most important provision. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Karen A Muller, "The relationship of age and gender to social support perceptions of youth in a residential treatment center setting" (January 1, 2004). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI3129185.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI3129185

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