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Intergenerational interaction stress: divorce as a predictor of psychological defense and coping behavior in adolescents
Saporovskaya M.V., PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Chair of Social Psychology
The purpose of the presented research is to study the delayed impact of parents divorce on the background of actualizing psychological defense in adolescents. Study sample consisted of adolescents with high levels of social and psychological adaptation, collocated with external criteria: high academic performance, normative behavior, high social achievements. The total sample size was 110 adolescents, among them 45 (20 boys, 25 girls) members of single- parent families, 65 (30 boys, 35 girls) members of two-parent families, age 11.6 to 13.1 years. The study was conducted in the framework of nomothetic approach with the use of cognitive diagnostic rating scales of social and psychological adaptation (SPA) by C. Rogers and R. Diamond (adaptation by A. K. Osnitsky,1996); R. Plutchik and C. Perry Children psychological defense assessment map (adaptation by EV Chumakov, 1998); Adolescent Coping Scale by Fraynderberg E. and R. Lewis (adaptation by T. L. Kryukova, 2002). The present study summarizes qualitative characteristics of defensive and coping behavior in older adolescents experienced parents' divorce 3–4 years ago. We found that high social achievements of adolescents from two-parent and single-parent families are associated with different psychological mechanisms. Adolescents from two-parent families focus on problem solving and social support, ie their coping behavior is oriented at interaction with parents and is aimed at the convergence of generations in the family. In adolescents with divorced parents, the psychological "price" of the achievements is enhancement of subjective control over the situation, which, in general, shows their desire to distance from parents. Thus, the long-term effects of divorce, observed in different patterns of defensive activity of adolescents, show that socially affluent teenagers need psychological help as much as socially disadvantaged adolescents.
Keywords: defensive activity, psychological defense, coping behavior, situational determinant, social and psychological adaptation.
Column: Family Psychology