Adolescent attachment: A validation of the Inventory of Parental Representations

Stephanie I Solow, Pace University


Although progress has been made recently in recognizing the importance of attachment during adolescence, research is limited because of the lack of convenient and valid methods for assessing attachment to parents during this developmental stage. Self-report measures tend to be the most common and convenient ways to examine attachment during adolescence. However, of the most widely used measures, common criticisms suggest that instruments fail to tap into the dimensions associated with insecure attachments and fail to demonstrate construct validity. Further, few self-reports have specifically looked at parental representations during the high school years, despite research showing that many key changes occur during that time. Seeking to improve upon these limitations, and to expand the field of study of adolescent development, Hart (1992) developed the Inventory of Parental Representations (IPR) as a measure of adolescents' attachment to their mothers and fathers. The IPR is a 71-item self-report measure that consists of seven scales representing varied aspects of parental representations; five of those scales are designed to measure aspects of insecure attachment. This study examined the validity of the IPR, through a study of its convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity. It also evaluated whether the IPR added to the prediction of various adolescent outcome variables above and beyond that of the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment. Participants were 118 males and 145 females ranging in age from 14 to 18 years from a suburban high school. Participants were administered a packet of materials containing several self-report measures assessing varied dimensions of adolescent development. Demographic information was obtained, and four self-report measures were used: the IPR, Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA), Millon Adolescent Personality Inventory (MAPI), and Erikson's Psychosocial Stage Inventory (EPSI). Findings revealed support for the establishment of convergent validity of the IPR, which was demonstrated through two separate procedures by examining the relationship between the IPR and the IPPA. In order to further establish construct validity, discriminant validity of the IPR was partially demonstrated by showing that the IPR had low correlations with grade point average. For predictive validity, it was found that parental representations of parents as supportive and encouraging of the adolescent's individuation were strongly related to lower levels of internalizing and externalizing symptoms on the YSR, more adaptive personality styles on the MAPI, and higher levels of identity achievement on the EPSI. When directly comparing the IPR with the IPPA, the IPR was able to add to the prediction of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, stages of identity development, and several MAPI personality styles. Each of the seven scales of the IPR proved useful in predicting varied outcomes of adolescent development. Having demonstrated the validity of the IPR, it is hoped that it will be a useful tool for psychologists working with adolescents particularly in the school setting. As attachment to parents has been shown to predict important personal and interpersonal outcomes, including psychopathology, personality, and identity development, the IPR could be incorporated into a psychologist's repertoire of social-emotional testing instruments. Interventions could ultimately be designed in order to improve parent-adolescent relationships both during adolescence and beyond.

Subject Area

Psychological tests|Social psychology|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Solow, Stephanie I, "Adolescent attachment: A validation of the Inventory of Parental Representations" (2004). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3138869.



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