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Effect of Family Structure on Family Attitudes and Expectations

Marilyn Coleman and Lawrence H. Ganong
Family Relations
Vol. 33, No. 3, Remarriage and Stepparenting (Jul., 1984), pp. 425-432
DOI: 10.2307/584713
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/584713
Page Count: 8
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Effect of Family Structure on Family Attitudes and Expectations
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Abstract

The effects of family structure (i.e. intact, single parent and stepfamily) and family integration (i.e. closeness to parents) on high school and college students' attitudes toward marriage, marriage roles, and divorce were examined. The sample consisted of 867 subjects from intact, 91 from stepfather, 35 from stepmother, 170 from mother-only and 28 from father-only families. Data were collected by a questionnaire which incorporated Hill's Attitude Toward Marriage Scale, the Hardy Divorce Scale, six marriage role expectations items, two Orientation to Parent Scales and several demographic items. Family structure affected divorce attitudes with children from mother/stepfather and mother-only families having more positive attitudes than children from intact families. Family integration affected marriage attitudes only; subjects from all family types who indicated high family integration (i.e. closeness to both step/mother and step/father) had more positive attitudes towards marriage than those reporting moderate or low family integration. Neither family structure, family integration or sex had an influence on marriage role expectations. Analyses of data from stepchildren only found no differences between stepchildren from stepmother or stepfather households, regardless of the cause of the dissolution of parent's previous marriage. Length of time of residence in the stepfamily household also had no effect on attitudes. The findings provide minimal support for a role model or social learning perspective. The development of attitudes toward marriage may be a more complex process than is often hypothesized; childhood experiences within the family may be only part of the influence of such attitudes.

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