Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

J. Steven Fulks


J. Steven Fulks


Identity development is recognized as the key developmental task of late adolescence. The family is thought to serve as a facilitating factor in this development. Traditionally, reference to the family's role in adolescent identity development has alluded to the nuclear family and to parents in particular. However, a growing consensus that nuclear families are not emotionally and psychologically isolated from extended families has permitted greater acceptance of the extended family, especially grandparents, as an integral part of the family. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between grandparent involvement and adolescent identity development. Identity development was measured by the Extended Objective Measure of Ego Identity Status, which is based on the four identity statuses (Achieved, Moratorium, Foreclosed, and Diffused). Grandparent involvement was measured quantitatively and qualitatively. A sample of 82 female participants in age group 18-20 was recruited from college freshmen enrolled in family and human development courses in the fall quarter 1991.

The results indicate when considering grandparent involvement qualitatively, commitment within identity development appeared to be the most prevalent contributory factor while crisis (i.e., exploration) seemed to contribute when examining the quantity of the relationship. This would seem to indicate that the time adolescent grandchildren and grandparents spend together is affected to a large extent by whether the adolescent is in the process of exploring his identity while the adolescent's attitude about grandparents is more affected by commitment in her sense of identity.