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Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 31, No. 2, April 2002, pp. 91­100 ( C 2002)

Psychosocial Correlates of Intimacy Achievement Among Adolescent Fathers-to-be

Matthew R. Winstanley,1 Steven A. Meyers,2 and Paul Florsheim3

Received November 27, 2000; accepted October 3, 2001

We investigated the relation between urban psychosocial stressors and intimacy achievement in a sample of 59 African American, Hispanic American, and White adolescent fathers-to-be. Participants received an intimacy score based on Orlofsky's Intimacy Status Rating Scale. Those with higher cumulative psychosocial stressors had lower levels of intimacy. One psychosocial risk factor, low interpersonal empathy, was significantly associated with intimacy levels. African Americans had lower levels of intimacy than Hispanic or White participants.

KEY WORDS: adolescent relationships; intimacy; adolescent parenting; psychosocial stressors; adolescent fatherhood.

INTRODUCTION Unique developmental and social issues influence the formation of interpersonal relationships during adolescence. Adolescence is a time of transition and growth when teenagers struggle for autonomy, develop peer relationships, and renegotiate their roles in family, school, and cultural environments (Rodriguez and Moore, 1995). Erikson (1968) believed that peer relationships and youth-

1 Graduate

student in clinical psychology, Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Chicago, Illinois. Received MA from Roosevelt University. Research interests include the impact psychosocial stressors have on current and future adolescent relational functioning, factors enhancing and impeding teenage paternal involvement, child development, and familial responses to acute and chronic psychological and physical stressors. To whom correspondence should be addressed at Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 47 W. Polk 2nd Floor, Chicago, Illinois 60605; e-mail: [email protected] 2 Associate Professor of Psychology, Roosevelt University. Received PhD from Michigan State University. Research interests include the prediction and enhancement of parenting behaviors, and the relations among social settings, family functioning, parenting, and child behavior. 3 Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Utah, Utah. Received PhD from Northwestern University Medical School. Research interests focus on clinical and developmental issues relevant to at-risk youth, including the development and treatment of antisocial behavior, factors related to the adjustment of adolescent parents, and the role of adolescent romantic relationships in development.

ful romances likely serve as mechanisms for identity development and relational success later in life. For adolescent fathers, interpersonal relationships during adolescence can be especially rewarding. They can find fulfillment on physical, emotional, and cognitive levels through these interactions as both parents and romantic partners. For all adolescents, this can be a trying task, especially if they are experiencing considerable stress. In particular, adolescent fathers in urban settings may face unique stressors such as low income, job difficulties, gang violence, and emotional problems. Furthermore, the development of healthy interpersonal relationships for adolescent fathers may be hindered by exposure to highrisk environments. Many times, psychological, social, and contextual risk factors combine to influence the level of intimacy and involvement between the adolescent father and the mother of his baby. Failure to cope with these risk factors may hinder adolescent fathers' development of interpersonal skills such as intimacy, mutual trust, and open communication. If adolescent fathers do not adequately learn the skills necessary for intimacy achievement, the negative consequences for them and their families could be far reaching. Often society labels adolescent fathers as negligent and irresponsible in the absence of empirical research. Currently, few research studies have focused on adolescent romantic relationships, much less the role that psychosocial stress and relational intimacy may have on paternal 91



2002 Plenum Publishing Corporation

92 involvement. Research is needed to gain a more accurate understanding of how psychological and social factors relate to the development of relational intimacy for young fathers. This study examined how specific psychosocial risk factors, including family income, individual socioeconomic status, neighborhood crime, interpersonal empathy, and psychopathology, collectively relate to the intimacy achievement of urban adolescent fathers-to-be. Intimacy Achievement: A Critical Developmental Task Intimacy has been described as a process that develops over time. As such, many developmental theorists include intimacy as a vital component in their hierarchy of needs (Erikson, 1950; Maslow, 1954; Sullivan, 1953). Erikson included intimacy as a dimension in his hierarchy of development and referred to it as a critical task in the transition from adolescence to adulthood (Schaefer and Olson, 1981, p. 19). Sullivan associated the beginning need for intimacy with adolescence and called the establishment of relationships the "crux of our existence from the cradle to the grave." The development of intimacy for adolescent fathers is critical to their present and future interpersonal relationships. People who have established an intimate status within interpersonal relationships are characterized by the desire to engage in close, warm, and communicative interactions with others (McAdams, 1982). Furthermore, these individuals have several close friends as well as involvement in a committed love relationship illustrated by the expression of affectionate feelings, mutual respect, and perspective taking (Orlofsky et al., 1973). Unfortunately, some adolescent fathers are faced with personal, social, and environmental obstacles to their development of intimacy expression. For many young urban adolescents, the desire to make positive changes in their lives is thwarted by overwhelming concerns about psychosocial stressors such as racism, violence, and death (Way, 1998). It is possible that early romantic relationships may play a role in the consolidation of identity and may affect subsequent romantic relationships and marital life (Shulman and Collins, 1997). Contextual and Psychosocial Influences on Adolescent Intimacy Adolescent relationships, specifically the process of intimacy development, are shaped by many external factors. Adolescents' families and communities jointly influence their levels of relational intimacy and closeness. More specifically, Bronfenbrenner (1979; 1986) described four environmental systems within which children

Winstanley, Meyers, and Florsheim develop: (a) the microsystem, which refers to the child's primary settings (e.g., home); (b) the mesosystem, which refers to the interaction of primary settings (e.g., school and home); (c) the exosystem, which refers to environments indirectly affecting the child's development (e.g., parent's work); and (d) the macrosystem, which refers to the larger societal morals, values, and philosophies. Bronfenbrenner indicated that to comprehend a child's development, one must understand the adolescent's interaction within multiple contexts. Adolescent intimacy achievement, a key developmental process, is similarly affected by these various ecosystems. Although microsystem models are important for understanding specific aspects of children's environment, an understanding of mesosystemic factors is essential and advocates a comprehension of the interactions among children's multiple environments. Other theorists have proposed the use of an ethnographic framework for the systemic and developmental study of racially diverse urban adolescents. Adolescents residing in a high-risk environment may begin an accelerated life course characterized by becoming "adult-like" too soon (e.g., working multiple jobs, multiple pregnancies) as well as living in numerous high-risk neighborhoods to obtain various social supports (Burton, 2001; Burton et al., 1995, 1996). This study examined the larger systemic interactions between personal characteristics, family income, neighborhood composition, and adolescent relationships. Family Socioeconomic Status Family income has been shown to have a large impact on adolescent development. An, Haveman, and Wolfe (1993) found that family socioeconomic status (SES) is an independent risk factor for adolescent childbearing and an indication of the severity of exposure to deleterious familial environments. Furthermore, child maltreatment and negative developmental outcomes are concentrated among socially and economically "highrisk" families (Garbarino and Sherman, 1980). It is possible that adolescents living in economically challenged households may learn inappropriate interpersonal skills and intimacy expression because of a scarcity of parental role models. Neighborhood Characteristics Families with low household incomes may reside in high-risk neighborhoods because of their financial situation. These high-risk neighborhoods are characterized by poverty, joblessness, and high crime rates (Wilson, 1987). The economic character of neighborhoods can affect

Psychosocial Correlates families in many different ways. Lower SES neighborhoods may have low-quality public and private resources, such as schools, parks, sports organizations, and police protection. Low SES adolescent fathers who reside in high-risk, economically deprived neighborhoods may frequently spend time away from the mothers of their babies while working to support them. Young fathers who spend most of their day away from home working may have difficulty establishing an intimate relationship with the mothers of their babies because of lack of quality time together. Furthermore, studies addressing contextual influences on adolescent psychosocial development have found that neighborhoods with fewer socioeconomic resources have higher levels of family and community stress (Allison et al., 1999). Racial Background Because of their unequal access to economic and occupational resources, many African Americans often reside in high-risk neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are characterized by poor police protection, unsafe housing, as well as high crime and joblessness. This atmosphere contributes to greater levels of stress and psychopathology among many African Americans. For many African American men, the residue of their circumstances may restrict their capacity to achieve intimacy with their partners. As a matter of survival and priorities, these men may be distracted from enhancing relational intimacy because of their need to concentrate on more immediate stressors. Racial status may have a unique influence on how and to what extent adolescent fathers achieve intimacy with their partners. Research on differences in adolescents' intimacy development is sparse; however, one can turn to literature on adult couples to examine racial differences in relational intimacy and long-term stability. Recent studies have noted divergent marriage patterns among African American and White couples (Bennett et al., 1989). Recent U.S. Bureau of the Census data from 1992 indicated that 43% of African American adults 18 years or older were currently married in 1992, down from 65% in 1974. Sixty-four percent of White adults were married in 1992, down from 73% in 1970. Divorce rates were also somewhat higher for African Americans. Among Black women in 1995, 12.5% were divorced; the figure for Black men was 8.5%. The comparable percentages among Whites were 10.1 and 8.1%, respectively (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1996). Historically, African American women have higher education levels, higher occupational status, and in many cases higher earnings than African American men. Because African American women may have higher income and education,

93 some African American men may be unable to meet the responsibilities of husband and father (Staples and Johnson, 1993). Unemployment translates into low income and lack of economic resources, both of which can cause strain on intimate relationships because couples are more likely to feel deprived (Kposowa, 1998). Adolescent Psychopathology For many young fathers, psychopathology is associated with the experience of multiple stressors. Pregnant or parenting teens are significantly more maladjusted than control groups (Becker-Lausen and Rickel, 1995). Unwed fathers may suffer from depression, guilt, emotional disturbances, educational or work difficulties, and anxiety (Gerard et al., 1991). Adolescent fathers have been found to have significantly higher rates of depression compared to men who fathered children as adults (Heath et al., 1995). In sum, past research has indicated that adolescent fathers are at greater risk than nonparenting adolescents for developing psychopathology, especially Axis I disorders. The presence of psychopathology combined with a high-stress environment may make intimacy achievement and subsequent paternal involvement a challenging task for teenage fathers. Interpersonal Empathy The capacity to take another perspective cognitively and emotionally is a major developmental milestone of adolescence and a precursor to the development of intimacy. The ability to empathize, or to accurately recognize and understand the experiences of others, is an integral aspect of success in interpersonal relationships (Davis and Oathout, 1992). Empathic understanding of oneself as well as others in the context of relationships requires both cognitive abilities (e.g., perspective taking) and affective traits (e.g., emotional concern and personal distress) (Davis, 1980). Various personality traits and empathy in particular have been found to influence self and partner-reported behavior in relationships (Davis and Oathout, 1987). More specifically, the ability to empathize has been shown to affect subjective behaviors, partner's perceptions of those behaviors, and eventually one's satisfaction and intimacy within the relationship (Davis and Oathout, 1987). AIM OF THE CURRENT STUDY Current theory regarding relational intimacy has generally been tested by studying adult, White heterosexual couples who reside in suburban communities or college

94 campuses. There has been less research on adolescent intimacy achievement. The majority of studies of adolescent relationships have focused on same-sex peers or parent­child interactions. Moreover, there has been even less empirical study of how psychosocial stressors (e.g., neighborhood risk, low SES, and psychopathology) relate to intimacy development among adolescent fathers in racially diverse populations. The goal of this study was to examine how high-risk family and neighborhood factors collectively relate to intimacy development in African American, Hispanic, and White adolescent fathers. HYPOTHESES First, we expected psychosocial factors, such as neighborhood violent crime, neighborhood household income levels, individual SES, interpersonal empathy, psychopathology, and racial background, would be moderately intercorrelated. Second, we hypothesized that psychosocial factors would have an individual relation to fathers' intimacy achievement. Third, we predicted that adolescent fathers with higher cumulative levels of psychosocial stress would have lower levels of intimacy achievement. METHOD Participants Fifty-nine adolescent fathers participated in this study. The data were drawn from a larger, ongoing longitudinal study called the Young Parenthood Project (Florsheim, 1999). The inclusion criteria for participants in this study were (a) the young father was between the ages of 14 and 24 years when he was expecting; (b) the young father was a parent of a child born to a teenage mother who was between the ages of 14 and 19 years; and (c) the young father was of African American (AA), Hispanic American (HA), or European American descent. The 59 participants had diverse racial backgrounds (African American: n = 20; Hispanic: n = 20; European American: n = 19), and ranged in age from 14 to 25 years (M = 18.15, SD = 2.11). Procedure Adolescent fathers for the YPP were recruited in a 2-part process. First, pregnant teenage girls between the ages of 14 and 19 years were recruited from 4 urban and suburban sites across the Chicago area. Second, the pregnant girls were told that it was necessary for the fathers

Winstanley, Meyers, and Florsheim of their babies to be notified and included in the interview process for them to be approved for participation. Prior to participation, both the mothers and the fathers of participants were mailed parental consent forms if they were under the age of 18 years. If they were over 18 years of age, participants read and signed the consent form on the day of the first interview prior to beginning. The data used to measure variables such as ethnicity, family SES, and level of intimacy were gathered during the Wave 1 interview session of the YPP. The specific data that were utilized for this study come from the semistructured and diagnostic interview protocols. The semistructured interview, lasting 3­4 h, delved into such topics as participants' academic/vocational interests, conflict resolution, relationship with parents, plans for the future, and religious beliefs. The diagnostic interview, lasting approximately 1.5 h, was conducted to determine the presence of an Axis I disorder. The interview was administered and transcribed by trained interviewers and research assistants. Measures Minority Status Based on responses from the interview and selfreport questionnaire, participants were categorized as African American, Hispanic American, or White. Participants of mixed ethnicity were not included in this study. Neighborhood Risk Factors The demographic section of the Wave 1 questionnaire asked participants to list their current city and street address as well as their zip code or apartment number, if necessary. Regional violent crime rates were used to assess participants' neighborhood risk level. Using the Chicago Police Department 1997 Annual Report, the number of murders, criminal sexual assaults, robberies, aggravated assaults, and arsons were determined. Mean household income (SES) for each region was also used as a measure of neighborhood risk (U.S. Census Bureau, 1992). Socioeconomic Status (SES) The Hollingshead Four-Factor Index was used to measure participants' SES (Hollingshead, 1975). This valid and reliable formula takes into consideration educational level, occupation, sex, and marital status to determine individual SES. The decision to use this multidimensional index of SES was based on the fact that many

Psychosocial Correlates adolescents were living with 1 parent but receiving some degree of financial support from the other, and some were in the process of becoming less financially dependent on their parents. Moreover, some adolescents were unable to accurately report their parents' income. Thus, it became difficult to use one global, self-report measure of individual SES. Participants received a score between 8 and 66 based on their self-reported information; higher values indicated higher SES. This range remained consistent whether the computed score was based on the occupation of 1 or 2 members of a nuclear family or household.

95 participants experience feelings of warmth, compassion, and concern for the observed individual. Finally, the personal distress scale (PD) measures the individual's own feelings of fear and discomfort when witnessing the negative experiences of others. The factor that was used in this study is a combined index of the 4 discrete subscales. The IRI has excellent psychometric properties. First, the factor structure remains constant for both sexes across independent samples and across repeated administration. The range of the standardized alpha coefficients for both men and women across the 4 subscales is adequate (alpha = 0.70­0.78). In addition, IRI test and retest scores range from 0.61 to 0.79 for men and from 0.62 to 0.81 for women. Finally, the relationships that exist between the subscales also support previous research about the development of empathic tendencies (Hoffman, 1976). Specifically, greater perspective-taking ability is associated with greater feelings of empathic concern for others and less feelings of personal unease in the face of others' negative experiences. Cronbach's alpha for the IRI index in the present study was 0.70. Intimacy Achievement Adolescents' intimacy achievement was measured with the Intimacy Status Rating Scale developed from Orlofsky's work with intimacy and identity development (Orlofsky, 1993). Orlofsky developed 9 subscales to measure various aspects of intimacy achievement. The 9 subscales or constructs of intimacy are commitment (duration and quality), communication (intrapersonal and interpersonal), caring/affection, knowledge of partner's traits, perspective-taking, power/decision-making, maintaining own interest, acceptance of partner's separateness, and dependency/detachment. Participants' intimacy status was determined by coding the semistructured interview; this overall score was calculated by adding the scores (rated on a 5-point Likert scale) from each of the 9 intimacy rating subscales. Participants' intimacy scores can range from 0 (low intimacy) to 110 (high intimacy). Two coders, trained by an expert, coded the semistructured interviews using systematic training procedures. A set of 10 training protocols were coded by both trained coders. Scoring of training protocols continued until a rate of 90% agreement was achieved. Subsequently, coders rated the semistructured interviews used in the present study. A bivariate correlation of 0.81 was obtained between the intimacy achievement scores from the 2 coders for this study, which indicates adequate interrater reliability. Cronbach's alpha for the present study was 0.90. Orlofsky's intimacy statuses have been compared to other measures to test construct validity. Orlofsky (1976)

Psychopathology The presence of psychopathology for participants 20 years of age and older was measured by the Structured Clinical Interview for Axis I disorders (SCID; First et al., 1996). The SCID is a highly valid and reliable measure of Axis I disorders in adult populations (Segal et al., 1994). The presence of psychopathology for participants 14­17 years of age was measured by the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents (DICA; Reich and Kaplan, 1994). The DICA is considered a reliable and valid instrument for diagnosing adolescent psychopathology. The DICA was found to have high interrater agreement between trained interviewers and child psychiatrists (Boyle et al., 1993). Kappa coefficients were calculated on 10% (n = 50) of the total Young Parenthood Project sample to assess interrater reliability for both the SCID and DICA. Kappa scores ranging from 0.51 to 1.00 indicated adequate interrater reliability for the present study (M Kappa = 0.92).

Interpersonal Empathy Adolescents' empathy levels were measured using the Interpersonal Reactivity Inventory (IRI; Davis, 1980). This 28-question, multidimensional measure of empathy measures both the cognitive and emotional aspects of empathy achievement. For each question, participants indicated how well the item described them on a 5-point scale, anchored by 0 (does not describe me well) and 4 (describes me very well). There are 4 discrete subscales within the larger inventory. The fantasy scale (FS) assesses the tendency to imaginatively transpose oneself into fictional situations (e.g., movies, books, etc.). The perspective-taking scale (PT) assesses one's ability to shift perspectives outside the self when dealing with other people. The empathic concern scale (EC) measures the degree to which

96 used Yufit's Intimacy Isolation scale (Yufit, 1956) for this purpose. Intimates and Preintimates were found to score higher on Yufit's self-report measure of intimacy than Pseudointimate and Stereotyped individuals. A similar pattern of status differences was obtained with Constantinople's Inventory of Psychosocial Development intimacy-isolation subscale (Constantinople, 1969) in a later study (Orlofsky, 1978). Specifically, Intimates and Preintimates as defined by the scales have been found to differ on personality variables such as warmth and impulse expression/inhibition in expected directions. Orlofsky (1976) also found that individuals with higher intimacy levels were more sensitive to their partner's needs, had more knowledge of their partner's feelings, and were more open to self-disclosure. Few studies have examined theories or measures of adolescent relationship intimacy, especially those involving romantic relationships. However, some researchers have used Orlofsky's concept of intimacy statuses as a model for adolescent relationships (Orlofsky, 1973, 1976). For example, genuine intimacy is characterized by mutual commitment and the establishment of balanced roles within the relationship (Shulman et al., 1997). Similar patterns are hypothesized for adolescent relationships within various relational systems (Shulman, 1993). Other theorists have used Orlofsky's intimacy statuses to highlight the role intimacy plays in the broader identity development of adolescents. Adolescents with a strong sense of identity development are likely to show a greater capacity for intimacy with opposite-sex peers, a more confident sexual identity, and a more positive self-concept (Conger and Peterson, 1982). While specific measures of urban, male adolescent intimacy achievement are virtually nonexistent, we believe that we have followed the recommendation of others who have studied diverse adolescents by measuring intimacy criteria that is common in many types of relationships (e.g., level of commitment, commu-

Winstanley, Meyers, and Florsheim nication patterns, knowledge of partner's traits, perspective taking, etc.) (Cooper et al., 1998). RESULTS Means and standard deviations of the predictor variables and the outcome variable are presented in Table I. Two participants were missing data from the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) measure; thus, they are excluded from statistical analyses that draw on these data. Preliminary analyses of variance (ANOVAs) verified that participants from the different racial/ethnic groups did not significantly differ in terms of their age or length of romantic relationships. Correlational analyses were conducted among the predictor variables (e.g., individual SES, neighborhood SES, neighborhood violent crime, interpersonal empathy, internalizing psychopathology, externalizing psychopathology, participant age, and race) and the outcome variable to determine the direction and intensity of the relationships (see Table II). First, several significant correlations were found among the predictor variables. Mean household income had a significant positive relationship with neighborhood violent crime. Those who had an internalizing diagnosis also tended to have an externalizing diagnosis. African American participants had significantly higher rates of neighborhood violent crime, lower mean household income, and higher likelihood of an internalizing diagnosis. In addition, several psychosocial variables had significant bivariate correlations with participants' intimacy achievement. More specifically, neighborhood violent crime, interpersonal empathy, and African American status were significantly associated with participants' intimacy achievement. A standard multiple regression was performed to assess the unique relationship that existed between each psychosocial stressor and intimacy (see Table III). Two

Table I. Means and Standard Deviations for Study Variables All Variable 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.


W SD 2.11 27.40 9.80 0.02 12176.91 0.49 0.43 7.92 11.58 M 18.95 29.97 27.86 0.01 43197.42 0.37 0.11 34.40 86.26 SD 2.27 19.40 10.15 0.01 11390.09 0.50 0.32 9.94 6.57 M 17.90 39.03 28.29 0.03 30599.30 0.55 0.40 32.34 73.50

AA SD 1.80 37.88 7.90 0.02 10842.79 0.51 0.50 5.72 13.90 M 17.65 27.10 29.29 0.02 33738.75 0.25 0.20 34.95 82.45

HA SD 2.11 20.02 11.42 0.01 11158.76 0.44 0.41 7.87 9.29

M 18.15 31.10 28.70 0.02 35720.54 0.39 0.24 33.90 80.64

Participant age (in years) Length of relationship (in months) Hollingshead SES rating Neighborhood violent crime Neighborhood household income Externalizing diagnosisa Internalizing diagnosisa Interpersonal empathy Orlofsky's intimacy rating = no diagnosis, 1 = diagnosis present.

Psychosocial Correlates

Table II. Intercorrelations Among Study Variables Variable 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

a0 p


1 -- 0.00 -0.09 -0.03 0.57 -0.30 0.24 0.27 -0.14 -0.45









African American statusa Hispanic statusa Participant age (in years) Hollingshead SES rating Neighborhood violent crime Mean neighborhood household income Externalizing diagnosisa Internalizing diagnosisa Interpersonal empathy Orlofsky's intimacy rating

-- -0.17 0.09 -0.09 -0.19 -0.21 -0.06 0.10 0.11

-- -0.16 0.04 -0.08 0.11 -0.08 0.04 0.10

-- -0.12 0.19 -0.06 -0.19 0.15 0.20

-- 0.55 -0.03 0.07 0.03 -0.29

-- -0.06 -0.03 -0.02 0.16

-- 0.37 0.02 -0.12

-- 0.06 -0.20

-- 0.32

= no, 1 = yes. < 0.05; p < 0.01.

predictor variables, interpersonal empathy and African American status, had a significant relationship to intimacy achievement when others were controlled, R 2 = 0.32, F(9, 47) = 2.40, p = 0.03. The additive association of these 7 predictor variables with intimacy development was examined by the creation of a cumulative risk score for each participant. Each continuous predictor variable (e.g., individual SES, neighborhood SES, neighborhood violent crime, interpersonal empathy, internalizing psychopathology, and externalizing psychopathology) was considered a risk factor if the participant's score was at or below the mean for this sample. African American status was also used as a risk factor in this regard. This categorization process of calculating cumulative environmental risk scores closely followed procedures used by previous researchers (e.g., Sameroff et al., 1993). Fathers were subsequently categorized as low-risk (0­2 risk factors, n = 26), mediumrisk (3 or 4 risk factors, n = 19), or high-risk (5 or 6 risk factors, n = 12). An ANOVA and subsequent Tukey test indicated that risk status was significantly associated with

Table III. Regression Analysis for Variables Predicting Adolescent Male Intimacy Achievement Variable 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

a0 p

differing levels of intimacy, F(2, 54) = 8.00, p < 0.01 (see Fig. 1); low risk fathers had significantly higher levels intimacy achievement than both medium and high-risk fathers. DISCUSSION The results of this study are consistent with Bronfenbrenner's ecological model of child development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). For adolescent fathers-to-be, several psychosocial risk factors were associated with lower levels of intimacy with their partners. Moreover, the cumulative effect of all psychosocial risk factors examined in our investigation (i.e., low SES, neighborhood income, neighborhood crime, low interpersonal empathy, psychopathology, and African American background) was a powerful prediction of intimacy. This finding is concordant with the primary hypotheses of this investigation. That is, the interrelation of high-risk contexts (e.g., family and

B 0.01 -11.50 -4.78 0.21 -42.58 0.00 -0.71 -1.38 0.37

SE B 0.74 5.07 4.09 0.16 127.71 0.00 3.23 3.88 0.19

Beta 0.02 -0.47 -0.20 0.17 -0.06 -0.07 -0.03 -0.05 0.25 Fig. 1. Paternal intimacy achievement as a function of the number of risk factors that fathers experienced.

Participant age African American statusa Hispanic statusa Hollingshead SES rating Neighborhood violent crime Neighborhood household income Externalizing diagnosisa Internalizing diagnosisa Interpersonal empathy = no, 1 = yes. < 0.05.

98 neighborhood) is associated with fathers' ability to develop close, intimate relations with significant others. These results are also consistent with the idea that highrisk neighborhoods, characterized by joblessness, crime, and low family SES, may have a negative impact on child development outcomes and relational success (Garbarino and Sherman, 1980; Wilson, 1987). Further analyses assessed the role that individual psychosocial stressors and race played in participants' intimacy levels. We found that 2 factors, interpersonal empathy and African American status, were significantly associated with intimacy achievement. Essentially, proximal influences, such as personality, are stronger correlates of intimacy than relatively more distal constructs (e.g., SES, neighborhood income, and neighborhood crime rates). Moreover, African Americans were found to experience greater amounts of risk (e.g., lower neighborhood SES and higher violent crime) than Hispanic and White participants. Nevertheless, a portion of the variance associated with African Americans' intimacy achievement was independent of their level of psychosocial risk. Possible explanations for these divergent patterns in relational intimacy between African Americans, Hispanics, and Whites may stem from conflicted gender roles for African American men and differing cultural definitions regarding the family and intimate relationships. Other studies have also found racial status to be an independent risk factor for exposure to various psychosocial variables (Sameroff et al., 1993). African American men may have unique gender role attitudes regarding relationships that influence their rolespecific behavior. More specifically, African American men may have a conflicting multidimensional gender role attitude due to their unique dual position in society. Male status accords certain hierarchical rights that minority status may minimize (Blee and Tickamyer, 1995). This tenuous status for African American males within society may carry over to the family system. An African American household headed by a dominant female figure with greater economic and educational resources may further marginalize the man's role within the relationship. These conflicting gender roles for African American men within their family and society could threaten the relational bonds. Aside from economic issues, Hispanic Americans may have greater relational success and intimacy achievement than African Americans because of their emphasis on the family unit (Shaull and Gramann, 1998). Many Hispanic cultures place a value on "familism." This is evidenced by the importance Hispanics often place on familyrelated activities and recreation. In general, Hispanic

Winstanley, Meyers, and Florsheim Americans value the togetherness, cohesiveness, and hierarchical structure of the family (Shaull and Gramann, 1998). Hispanics may put more effort into the achievement and maintenance of relational or familial intimacy than African Americans due to their cultural norm to preserve the complete family unit. Hispanic Americans demonstrate more deference to authority and more acquiescent relationships (Kane, 1998). These culturally defined relational patterns may make Hispanic couples more amenable to fidelity, cohesiveness, and the maintenance of intimate interactions than African American couples. After exploring some of the cultural and ethnic explanations for differing levels of intimacy, some questions arise. Is it possible that the current definitions of intimacy apply more to the dominant White culture? Does this "White" definition of intimacy apply to African American relationships? Do African Americans have different conceptions of intimacy development because of their unique historical, social, and economic place in society? Do cultural norms regarding the importance of the family influence African Americans' intimacy? Further research may examine the mediating roles that culture, ethnicity, and social status play in early relational interactions among African American adolescents.

LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS One methodological limitation of this study originated from the use of cross-sectional, correlational data. The results presented in this investigation document associations among variables rather than patterns of cause and effect; therefore, causal relations cannot be determined. Another shortcoming of this study was the lack of inclusion of other psychosocial stressor variables that may have a significant association with intimacy. Lower SES neighborhoods may have few public resources such as parks, schools, hospitals, and police protection (Wilson, 1987). This study examined the relationship between primary characteristics of high-risk neighborhoods (e.g., crime rates and mean income level) and adolescent intimacy achievement and did not address secondary items like public resources. Future research that focuses on such adjunct risk factors may reveal significant relationships. An additional relationship that was not explored in this study was the association between adolescents' parental role models and their relational intimacy achievement. Current literature supports the notion that parent­ child interactions can lay the foundation for patterns of interpersonal functioning throughout the life span. For example, the work of Bandura (1977) involving social

Psychosocial Correlates and observational learning revolves around the idea that children and adolescents learn how to interact via modeling provided by their caregivers. Furthermore, children who develop insecure or enmeshed attachments to their caregivers may continue a pattern of dysfunctional attachments into other relationships during adolescence (Belsky and Cassidy, 1995). Future research needs to be conducted to explore the specific influence of the caregiver­ adolescent relationship on adolescents' other interpersonal interactions as well as the importance of role models on adolescent intimacy development. A final limitation of this study was the inability to examine various interaction effects between independent variables due to a relatively small sample size and subsequent power concerns. A larger sample would have enabled us to examine the interaction effect of neighborhood violent crime rates and individual SES levels on intimacy achievement. CLINICAL AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS Adolescent romantic relationships and intimacy development are rarely the focus of empirical research. Furthermore, even less research has focused on how contextual stressors in large urban areas affect the intimacy between racially diverse adolescent couples. The results of this study highlight how risk factors may influence the success or failure of adolescent relationships. For minority adolescents in urban settings, the road to mature intimacy achievement may involve the interaction of numerous psychosocial factors. It is essential that parents, teachers, clinicians, and researchers recognize how contextual stressors impact adolescent relationships and then intervene to address those needs. Clinicians who treat urban minority adolescents must consider the role of neighborhood stressors when diagnosing and intervening. From a diagnostic perspective, clinicians must examine the internal as well as external forces involved in the clients' presenting problems. Thorough clinical interviews that focus on a wide range of environmental (e.g., criminal activity, gang involvement) and social issues (e.g., romantic and platonic relationships) allow clinicians greater accuracy in their diagnosis and treatment. Adjunct treatment to address the impact of psychosocial stress on adolescent psychopathology and relational difficulties is important in the holistic treatment of highrisk urban adolescents. Examples include joining extracurricular activities at school such as sports teams, drama club, or choir. These activities may isolate them from neighborhood stressors and establish a network of individuals who are committed to their well-being. Other ideas

99 may include promoting adolescents' involvement in mentorship programs to provide models of appropriate vocational, social, and relational behaviors. REFERENCES

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TITLE: Psychosocial correlates of intimacy achievement among adolescent fathers-to-be SOURCE: J Youth Adolescavhlth Jron 31 no22102/12 Ap 20020652004 The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited. To contact the publisher:


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