This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Relationship Between Indirect Family Factors, Emotional Reactivity, and Young Adults' Interpersonal Competence




Dakin, Lanie

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


While interpersonal competence has been studied for decades by myriad disciplines, reviewers have noted again and again a deficit in the study of the development of interpersonal competence. The purpose of this study is to look at the relationship between indirect family and individual factors in relation to interpersonal competence. This study builds on previous research by using a young adult sample, looking at gender of parent as a control variable, using multiple predictor variables, and looking at general as well as specific aspects of interpersonal competence. The study sample included 685 college students from the mid-west with a mean age of 20.2 (SD = 2.87). The majority of participants were female (66.4%), were raised in intact homes (86.2%), and were of European American ethnicity (89.3%). Measures from The Relationship Competencies of Rural Adolescents and Young Adults project were used to assess the indirect family factors of attachment, parenting, family process, and family status as well as the individual factor of emotional reactivity. Interpersonal competence included a total score as well as the dimensions of disclosure, emotional support, initiation, negative assertion and conflict management. Simple multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine which predictors were most associated with each aspect of interpersonal competence. All of the predictor variables but family status were significantly related to interpersonal competence. Furthermore, gender of parent results found that mother communication and father communication were related to interpersonal competence in unique ways. Entered simultaneously, the predictor variables accounted for 3.1% to 18.7% of the scores for total interpersonal competence and each of the sub-dimensions. Moreover, each regression analyses showed a unique combination of significant contributors to the variance in the scores.