Caretaker acceptance/rejection and adolescent social competence

Paige Collins Simpson (2002)

Few studies to date have focused on how perceived caretaker relationships relate to the ability and motivation of adolescents in residential treatment to access healthy social relationships. This study explores the specific vulnerabilities of this population in an attempt to evaluate potential intervention strategies for future study that may address the needs of these youth. The study identifies several demographics including age, sex, reason for referral, number of previous out-of-home placements, continued caretaker involvement, and adolescent treatment participation. The sample consists of 17 (8 male and 9 female) adolescents ages 13-17 from urban areas who are presently in residential treatment. All adolescents received the same self-report measures. The inquiry focuses on perceived caretaker acceptance and its relationship to adolescent effectiveness and motivation in accessing social supports. It does this by comparing adolescents': (a) perceptions of acceptance/rejection by their caretakers, (b) perceptions of personality and behavioral dispositions, (c) perception of their future and self-efficacy, and (d) perceived object relatedness and reality testing. Correlational analysis is utilized to explore and identify patterns and cumulative effects in the data sets. Foremost, contrary to the predicted expectations, there appeared to be no direct relationship between perceived caretaker acceptance and social competence measures. Furthermore, caretaker acceptance/rejection and sample demographics were also not positively related. Caretaker acceptance/rejection and adolescents' level of hope was, however, positively related. Caretaker acceptance/rejection also had a positive relationship with adolescents' world-view and levels of egocentricity. In addition, a robust finding related negative personality and behavioral dispositions and adolescent social incompetence. Several unexpected findings included gender-related differences in adolescent hope, with male adolescents displaying less future orientation and self-efficacy. In addition, findings also supported higher scores in social incompetence and hostility and aggression scores for males. Other demographic comparisons found a positive relationship for adolescents who were identified as having only one out-of-home placement as being more involved with all identified treatment modalities than those adolescents with 2 or more placements. Finally, the positively related risk factors identified in the study for social incompetence were impaired reality testing, diminished hope, and emotional instability.