Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Ann M. Berghout Austin


Ann M. Berghout Austin


The purpose of this study was to look at age-associated changes in relatedness and autonomy in 8- to 12-year-olds. A psychosocial and attachment theory perspective was taken to help explain the integration of relatedness and autonomy issues. The influence of gender, parent involvement, and selected demographic variables was also considered. The sample included 94 children . This excluded those with single fathers or stepmothers.

Instruments used were (a) the relatedness, autonomy, and parent involvement portions of the Rochester Assessment Package for Schools (Wellborn & Connell, 1987); (b) an age appropriate revision of the Eriksonian Psychosocial Stage Inventory (Jones & Anderson, 1992); (c) a revision of Hansburg's (1972) Separation Anxiety Test (SAT) to obtain attachment classification (Resnick, 1994), and (d) the Klagsbrun-Bowlby (1976) method of evaluating responses to separation anxiety from the Separation Anxiety Test.

Results of this study indicate that relatedness and autonomy aspects of self-concept can be differentiated and were shown to vary by age and gender. Age-related biosocial shifts in self-concept were found that corresponded to cognitive and social developmental changes in middle childhood. Significant gender differences were found in self-concept and response to separation anxiety as well as in the way that the proposed biosocial shifts were experienced.

The attachment classifications obtained by the Resnick Separation Anxiety Test instrument produced theoretically valid results and were relatively stable across age and gender . The Klagsbrun-Bowlby measure of responses to separation anxiety did show significant age and gender differences, indicating t hat these two instruments may be looking at two different aspects of the attachment system.

Parental involvement and maternal education showed positive influences on relatedness, autonomy, and psychosocial development scores and their influence varied by gender. Socioeconomic status interacted with gender in its influence on autonomy.

The results of this study indicate that middle childhood is an important time in the development of self-concept. Awareness of the needs of preadolescent children as they begin to form attitudes regarding self and others is valuable in identifying and modifying risk factors for behavior problems