discussion:

  • Attachment

For this discussion:

    • Use Erickson’s theoretical framework to explore adolescent attachment and its developmental impact.
    • Choose two issues related to adolescent attachment (for example, attachment relationships with parents and peers, or the nature of attachment system in adolescence) and describe possible implications for adult life.

Support your response with APA-formatted citations from scholarly sources, including both those provided in this unit and any additional evidence you may have researched.
 

 
Speaking of Psychology: The good and bad of peer pressure
Episode 2
Your browser does not support our podcast player. You should instead .
When a school year begins, students are dealing with new classes, sports and other school-related activities. Most students will also face the challenges of peer pressure. Psychologist Brett Laursen, PhD, talks about the science behind peer pressure and what parents can do to help their kids.
About the expert: Brett Laursen, PhD
Brett Laursen, PhD, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University, where his research focuses on how children’s interactions with peers and parents influence their social and academic lives. Laursen also serves as docent professor of social developmental psychology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Transcript
Audrey Hamilton: When a new school year begins, students are dealing with classes, sports and other extra-curricular activities. Most students will also face an entirely different set of challenges with peer pressure. Parents may notice a change in how their child dresses or behaves at home. How much of this is related to their friends’ influence and how should parents address peer pressure with their children. In this podcast, we talk with a psychologist who looks at the science behind peer pressure, both the good and the bad.
Brett Laursen is a professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University, where his research focuses on how children and teens interact with their peers and parents. Specifically, he studies how these relationships affect their social lives and academics. Dr. Laursen is a fellow of the American Psychological Association. Welcome.
Brett Laursen: Thanks. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.
Audrey Hamilton: When does peer pressure typically begin to occur in children’s lives and what impact does it have on child and adolescent development?
Brett Laursen: Before we tackle that question, I think it’s important to define peer pressure. If we define peer- pressure as essentially, influence, then I think we can see that peer pressure begins very early on. But, it’s not often the way that parents and adults think of it. You have explicit peer pressure and you have implicit peer pressure. So, let me give you an example. I know of a young man who just started middle school and started it with long hair and a couple of months into middle school he got his hair cut very short. This could have been because somebody made fun of his long hair. That would be the explicit form of peer pressure. But, it could also be very implicit. He could have wanted to fit in. He could have been eager to make new friends, other kids with short hair who didn’t want them to be off put by his long hair. He could have thought this was some form of status – that people with short hair appear to have more status than people with long hair. We don’t know, in this particular instance and we often don’t really know exactly if it’s one or the other and typically, it’s probably a combination of things. So, when we think about peer pressure, we’re really talking about influence to behave differently, that’s exerted by peers.
So, when does it begin?
It begins as soon as children start to pay attention to what other children think about them. So, we can see peer influence in the very early grade school years. We see it over behavior problems where one set of peers will influence another to act badly. We also see it over academic achievement where friends do better when they’re paired with other kids who are doing better in school. We see this as early as first grade. Our data in both Finland and the U.S. suggest that these influences happen with very young children.
Audrey Hamilton: Why are some children and teens more susceptible to peer pressure than others? You see some kids that generally seem to just do their own thing and not care what other children think of them, but that’s not always the case and why are some of them more susceptible to that?
Brett Laursen: We’re still working to disentangle the notion of susceptibility from the notion of being really influential. So, on the one hand, there are some children who are susceptible to influence from anyone – that is to say that whatever comes down the pike they’re likely to follow. But, it’s also the case that some people are more influential and so, if you hang around with people who tend to be particularly influential, you will look susceptible even though you’re not particularly susceptible. It just happens to be that you’re hanging around with others who are highly influential.
So, I’ll try to address that question, but I want to put that big caveat out there first because if you’re hanging around with somebody who’s very persuasive and who has a lot of social skills, you may look susceptible when in fact you’re not particularly susceptible to other people. It just has to do with those that you spend your time with. So, we know that susceptibility is greater for children who don’t have a lot of friends. They want to protect the friendships that they have, and so they’re more likely to do what their friends say because they’re worried about losing their friends and have difficulty making others. Younger children who hang around with older children are susceptible to influence. Paradoxically, being popular may make you susceptible to influence. This one is a little bit up in the air, but it may be that popular kids in some domains worry about protecting their status and so, they’re more likely to be influenced to be seen doing things that they should be seen doing even if they don’t want to do them because otherwise they fear their status will diminish in the eyes of their peers.
Audrey Hamilton: What about any difference between boys and girls when it comes to peer pressure?
Brett Laursen: We don’t have firm evidence on this but I can tell you this much is for sure. Boys spend much more time in groups than girls whereas girls spend their time; tend to spend their time in friendship dyads. And so, the influence that boys receive is much more likely to be concerned with fitting into the group as a whole. And so, boys need the approval of a larger group of peers whereas girls are much more focused on getting along with one or another particular individual. And so, we probably are going to see more individual influence on girls whereas boys are going to be more apt to be susceptible to forces from the group, as a whole.
Audrey Hamilton: And I’m sure there are some parents that are listening to this wondering what can they do to help children recognize and deal appropriately with peer pressure?
Brett Laursen: It’s a good question. The first thing I think that parents can do is that they can help children recognize that attempts to influence them are everywhere. You can’t turn around without somebody attempting to influence you. They want you to eat this or buy that or watch this or listen to that. So one of the first things we can do is we can help children understand that our culture is full of influence attempts and peers are just another set of forces that are vying for our attention and are vying to shape our behavior. So once children start to see that there are these influences everywhere, that’s really the first step of the process. So, you recognize when there are influence attempts going on and you can start to label them and recognize them and label them and recognize them and children become more adept at recognizing and labeling them and identifying them, then you can start to talk with them about is that the kind of influence you want to be shaped by. Is that something that you want to be susceptible to? And if not, we start to talk about how we might resist that influence. But, it’s much easier to resist influence if you’ve thought about your strategy beforehand. It’s a teen going to a party and there’s going to be somebody drinking there. Is that something that you want to resist or not? Certainly, you want to tell your teen that what are your strategies for if the person who was driving decides to drink? What are your strategies for not getting in the car? What is your strategy for finding a way home that won’t involve driving with somebody who has been drinking? So, recognizing that there’s influence out there, and it’s not necessarily over influence. There’s going to be a lot of covert, of implicit influence and that influence is just the same as all the other influence and children need to be sensitive to that.
Parents can serve as a buffer against peer-influence. We know that children who have good relations with their parents feel that they have less of a need to please their friends. So, I’ll give you an example of one set of research findings that we have from work that we have done in Sweden.
Children who have friends who are really burned out on school – who report that they are tired of school – if your friend is a high burnout on school, then you’re much more likely to feel less interested in school. School engagement is going to drop over the course of a year unless you report really strong relations with your parents. And so having a good relationship with your parents is going to buffer you against this adverse peer influence.
Audrey Hamilton: Some of what you’re talking about – a lot of what you’re talking about is negative peer-influence, but some of your research has looked at how peer-influence can be a positive factor in a child’s life. What are some examples of that and what can children and teenagers do to develop these kinds of relationships?
Brett Laursen: Well, if you think about it logically, it can’t possibly be the case that all peer influence is bad or else children would all, inevitably end up as juvenile delinquents because influence would be negative and more negative and more negative and everyone would be susceptible to it. So, there has to be, there has to be some area of push back. There has to be some area where peers are good. We know that kids are going to be influenced for better or for worse by whoever is the more influential partner. So, if we take two friends out and we know that one is particularly influential – let’s say the one who has more friend options or the one who is older or the one who is doing better in school or the one who is more attractive – whatever – the one who is more influential is going to set the tone for the influence. So, if the one who is more influential doesn’t like to drink, then we have data that suggests that actually teens desist from alcohol consumption. That the lower, the less influential member of the group is going to desist from drinking because they want to be more like the more influential one. We see the same thing that the levels of delinquency will go down, as well. So it all depends on the characteristics of the more influential partner and the same is true in a group. The group leaders. So, the more the group leaders have a positive agenda, the more that other children are more likely to be influenced by that positive agenda. So, if you belong to a group where everyone is physically active, you’re going to be physically active. There’s a big “except” for this. Except for if you really don’t want to do this, then you’re likely to drop out of that group or not be friends with those particular individuals anymore. You are going to go and select people who are more like you and under those circumstances, when children are de-selected from groups or drop out of friendships, then they go and look for kids who have more similar levels of perhaps drinking or deviance and then they may be inclined to be influenced in a different direction.
Audrey Hamilton: Does peer pressure follow people into adulthood or is there a point in life when it becomes less of a factor?
Brett Laursen: For sure, peer pressure follows people across their whole life course. But, you’re going to receive in different ways from different people. So, are adults susceptible to peer pressure? I think the answer is, of course! Last night, I went to back to school night for my children and I was very impressed by the whole string of SUV’s that arrived and out of the SUV’s got moms with very similar haircuts and very similar length of heels and dads who all look like they have gone shopping at the same place who differed only in terms of whether or not they wore a tie.
Audrey Hamilton: Right. All had the smartphones.
Brett Laursen: There’s no question that we’re susceptible to peer-influence and this proceeds across the course of our life. As we get older, we form romantic relationships and we get married, then different peers influence us. But, it’s still peer influence, nevertheless.
Audrey Hamilton: Yeah, well great. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Laursen.
Brett Laursen: Pleasure was mine. Thank you.
Audrey Hamilton: For more information, please visit our website
. Thank you for joining us. I’m Audrey Hamilton with the American Psychological Association’s “Speaking of Psychology.”
Speaking of Psychology: The good and bad of peer pressure
Episode 2
Your browser does not support our podcast player. You should instead .
When a school year begins, students are dealing with new classes, sports and other school-related activities. Most students will also face the challenges of peer pressure. Psychologist Brett Laursen, PhD, talks about the science behind peer pressure and what parents can do to help their kids.
About the expert: Brett Laursen, PhD
Brett Laursen, PhD, is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University, where his research focuses on how children’s interactions with peers and parents influence their social and academic lives. Laursen also serves as docent professor of social developmental psychology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Transcript
Audrey Hamilton: When a new school year begins, students are dealing with classes, sports and other extra-curricular activities. Most students will also face an entirely different set of challenges with peer pressure. Parents may notice a change in how their child dresses or behaves at home. How much of this is related to their friends’ influence and how should parents address peer pressure with their children. In this podcast, we talk with a psychologist who looks at the science behind peer pressure, both the good and the bad.
Brett Laursen is a professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University, where his research focuses on how children and teens interact with their peers and parents. Specifically, he studies how these relationships affect their social lives and academics. Dr. Laursen is a fellow of the American Psychological Association. Welcome.
Brett Laursen: Thanks. It’s a pleasure to speak with you.
Audrey Hamilton: When does peer pressure typically begin to occur in children’s lives and what impact does it have on child and adolescent development?
Brett Laursen: Before we tackle that question, I think it’s important to define peer pressure. If we define peer- pressure as essentially, influence, then I think we can see that peer pressure begins very early on. But, it’s not often the way that parents and adults think of it. You have explicit peer pressure and you have implicit peer pressure. So, let me give you an example. I know of a young man who just started middle school and started it with long hair and a couple of months into middle school he got his hair cut very short. This could have been because somebody made fun of his long hair. That would be the explicit form of peer pressure. But, it could also be very implicit. He could have wanted to fit in. He could have been eager to make new friends, other kids with short hair who didn’t want them to be off put by his long hair. He could have thought this was some form of status – that people with short hair appear to have more status than people with long hair. We don’t know, in this particular instance and we often don’t really know exactly if it’s one or the other and typically, it’s probably a combination of things. So, when we think about peer pressure, we’re really talking about influence to behave differently, that’s exerted by peers.
So, when does it begin?
It begins as soon as children start to pay attention to what other children think about them. So, we can see peer influence in the very early grade school years. We see it over behavior problems where one set of peers will influence another to act badly. We also see it over academic achievement where friends do better when they’re paired with other kids who are doing better in school. We see this as early as first grade. Our data in both Finland and the U.S. suggest that these influences happen with very young children.
Audrey Hamilton: Why are some children and teens more susceptible to peer pressure than others? You see some kids that generally seem to just do their own thing and not care what other children think of them, but that’s not always the case and why are some of them more susceptible to that?
Brett Laursen: We’re still working to disentangle the notion of susceptibility from the notion of being really influential. So, on the one hand, there are some children who are susceptible to influence from anyone – that is to say that whatever comes down the pike they’re likely to follow. But, it’s also the case that some people are more influential and so, if you hang around with people who tend to be particularly influential, you will look susceptible even though you’re not particularly susceptible. It just happens to be that you’re hanging around with others who are highly influential.
So, I’ll try to address that question, but I want to put that big caveat out there first because if you’re hanging around with somebody who’s very persuasive and who has a lot of social skills, you may look susceptible when in fact you’re not particularly susceptible to other people. It just has to do with those that you spend your time with. So, we know that susceptibility is greater for children who don’t have a lot of friends. They want to protect the friendships that they have, and so they’re more likely to do what their friends say because they’re worried about losing their friends and have difficulty making others. Younger children who hang around with older children are susceptible to influence. Paradoxically, being popular may make you susceptible to influence. This one is a little bit up in the air, but it may be that popular kids in some domains worry about protecting their status and so, they’re more likely to be influenced to be seen doing things that they should be seen doing even if they don’t want to do them because otherwise they fear their status will diminish in the eyes of their peers.
Audrey Hamilton: What about any difference between boys and girls when it comes to peer pressure?
Brett Laursen: We don’t have firm evidence on this but I can tell you this much is for sure. Boys spend much more time in groups than girls whereas girls spend their time; tend to spend their time in friendship dyads. And so, the influence that boys receive is much more likely to be concerned with fitting into the group as a whole. And so, boys need the approval of a larger group of peers whereas girls are much more focused on getting along with one or another particular individual. And so, we probably are going to see more individual influence on girls whereas boys are going to be more apt to be susceptible to forces from the group, as a whole.
Audrey Hamilton: And I’m sure there are some parents that are listening to this wondering what can they do to help children recognize and deal appropriately with peer pressure?
Brett Laursen: It’s a good question. The first thing I think that parents can do is that they can help children recognize that attempts to influence them are everywhere. You can’t turn around without somebody attempting to influence you. They want you to eat this or buy that or watch this or listen to that. So one of the first things we can do is we can help children understand that our culture is full of influence attempts and peers are just another set of forces that are vying for our attention and are vying to shape our behavior. So once children start to see that there are these influences everywhere, that’s really the first step of the process. So, you recognize when there are influence attempts going on and you can start to label them and recognize them and label them and recognize them and children become more adept at recognizing and labeling them and identifying them, then you can start to talk with them about is that the kind of influence you want to be shaped by. Is that something that you want to be susceptible to? And if not, we start to talk about how we might resist that influence. But, it’s much easier to resist influence if you’ve thought about your strategy beforehand. It’s a teen going to a party and there’s going to be somebody drinking there. Is that something that you want to resist or not? Certainly, you want to tell your teen that what are your strategies for if the person who was driving decides to drink? What are your strategies for not getting in the car? What is your strategy for finding a way home that won’t involve driving with somebody who has been drinking? So, recognizing that there’s influence out there, and it’s not necessarily over influence. There’s going to be a lot of covert, of implicit influence and that influence is just the same as all the other influence and children need to be sensitive to that.
Parents can serve as a buffer against peer-influence. We know that children who have good relations with their parents feel that they have less of a need to please their friends. So, I’ll give you an example of one set of research findings that we have from work that we have done in Sweden.
Children who have friends who are really burned out on school – who report that they are tired of school – if your friend is a high burnout on school, then you’re much more likely to feel less interested in school. School engagement is going to drop over the course of a year unless you report really strong relations with your parents. And so having a good relationship with your parents is going to buffer you against this adverse peer influence.
Audrey Hamilton: Some of what you’re talking about – a lot of what you’re talking about is negative peer-influence, but some of your research has looked at how peer-influence can be a positive factor in a child’s life. What are some examples of that and what can children and teenagers do to develop these kinds of relationships?
Brett Laursen: Well, if you think about it logically, it can’t possibly be the case that all peer influence is bad or else children would all, inevitably end up as juvenile delinquents because influence would be negative and more negative and more negative and everyone would be susceptible to it. So, there has to be, there has to be some area of push back. There has to be some area where peers are good. We know that kids are going to be influenced for better or for worse by whoever is the more influential partner. So, if we take two friends out and we know that one is particularly influential – let’s say the one who has more friend options or the one who is older or the one who is doing better in school or the one who is more attractive – whatever – the one who is more influential is going to set the tone for the influence. So, if the one who is more influential doesn’t like to drink, then we have data that suggests that actually teens desist from alcohol consumption. That the lower, the less influential member of the group is going to desist from drinking because they want to be more like the more influential one. We see the same thing that the levels of delinquency will go down, as well. So it all depends on the characteristics of the more influential partner and the same is true in a group. The group leaders. So, the more the group leaders have a positive agenda, the more that other children are more likely to be influenced by that positive agenda. So, if you belong to a group where everyone is physically active, you’re going to be physically active. There’s a big “except” for this. Except for if you really don’t want to do this, then you’re likely to drop out of that group or not be friends with those particular individuals anymore. You are going to go and select people who are more like you and under those circumstances, when children are de-selected from groups or drop out of friendships, then they go and look for kids who have more similar levels of perhaps drinking or deviance and then they may be inclined to be influenced in a different direction.
Audrey Hamilton: Does peer pressure follow people into adulthood or is there a point in life when it becomes less of a factor?
Brett Laursen: For sure, peer pressure follows people across their whole life course. But, you’re going to receive in different ways from different people. So, are adults susceptible to peer pressure? I think the answer is, of course! Last night, I went to back to school night for my children and I was very impressed by the whole string of SUV’s that arrived and out of the SUV’s got moms with very similar haircuts and very similar length of heels and dads who all look like they have gone shopping at the same place who differed only in terms of whether or not they wore a tie.
Audrey Hamilton: Right. All had the smartphones.
Brett Laursen: There’s no question that we’re susceptible to peer-influence and this proceeds across the course of our life. As we get older, we form romantic relationships and we get married, then different peers influence us. But, it’s still peer influence, nevertheless.
Audrey Hamilton: Yeah, well great. Thank you so much for joining us, Dr. Laursen.
Brett Laursen: Pleasure was mine. Thank you.
Audrey Hamilton: For more information, please visit our website
. Thank you for joining us. I’m Audrey Hamilton with the American Psychological Association’s “Speaking of Psychology.”
Theory and teen dating violence victimization:
Considering adolescent development
Deinera Exner-Cortens ⇑
Cornell University, G77 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
article info
Article history:
Received 1 March 2013
Revised 26 March 2014
Available online 18 April 2014
Keywords:
Theory
Teen dating violence
Adolescent development
Adolescent romantic relationships
abstract
Teen dating violence is an important public health problem, with
implications for the future health and well-being of adolescents.
However, most work on teen dating violence has developed separately
from literature on normative adolescent romantic relationships
and development; understanding teen dating violence
within the framework of adolescent psychosocial development
may provide new areas for research. Thus, the present paper summarizes
five theories of adolescent development that are relevant to the
study of teen dating violence victimization, as well as empirical literature
that demonstrates support for key theoretical tenets in
research examining adolescent romantic relationships. We also
present questions for future dating violence study that arise from
these key theoretical tenets and past empirical research. Researchers
interested in dating violence victimization can use the presented
theories to guide new directions in research inquiry, so that findings
are situated within the broader field of adolescent development.
2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Introduction
Adolescent romantic relationships are important experiences in the lives of teenagers (Feiring &
Furman, 2000; Furman & Shaffer, 2003), and can positively influence the accomplishment of several
developmental tasks, including identity and sexual development. However, a substantial minority
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dr.2014.03.001
0273-2297/ 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Abbreviations: APIM, actor–partner interdependence models; FNE, fear of negative evaluation; fMRI, functional magnetic
resonance imaging; IWM, internal working model; TDV, teen dating violence.
⇑ Present address: CAMH Centre for Prevention Science, 100-100 Collip Circle, London, ON N6G-4X8, Canada.
E-mail addresses: dme56@cornell.edu, Deinera.Exner@camh.ca
Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Developmental Review
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/dr
of these relationships also have the potential for negative impacts (Furman & Shaffer, 2003); one path
through which these negative consequences may occur is the experience of physical, sexual and/or
psychological aggression in early- and mid-adolescent dating relationships, also referred to as teen
dating violence (TDV). Nationally, approximately 9% of U.S. teenagers report that a boyfriend or girlfriend
hit, slapped or physically hurt them on purpose in the past 12 months (Centers for Disease
Control, 2012), and approximately 30% of adolescent males and females report experiencing psychological
aggression (e.g., name-calling, insulting, threatening with violence) from a dating partner in
their lifetime (Halpern, Oslak, Young, Martin, & Kupper, 2001). Adolescents who report this victimization
are more likely to report a number of adverse outcomes in young adulthood, including binge
drinking, depression, suicidal thoughts, substance use and re-victimization, when compared to adolescents
in non-violent dating relationships (Exner-Cortens, Eckenrode, & Rothman, 2013).
Research on violence and aggression between adolescent dating partners has grown substantially
over the past three decades (Foshee & Reyes, 2011; Ulloa, Kissee, Castaneda, & Hokoda, 2013). However,
this work has mostly developed separately from the literature on normative adolescent romantic
relationships, and work on adolescent development more broadly, and is not generally guided by an a
priori theoretical framework. Although several recent papers have reviewed theoretical frameworks
for TDV, they focus primarily on theories more traditionally used in understanding adult interpersonal
violence, such as attachment theory, feminist theory and social learning theory (Burton, HalpernFelsher,
Rankin, Rehm, & Humphreys, 2011; Olsen, Parra, & Bennett, 2010; Shorey, Cornelius, & Bell,
2008; Smith, White, & Moracco, 2009; Ulloa et al., 2013; White, 2009), with none specifically considering
theories of adolescent development that may advance knowledge about the onset, course and
etiology of TDV victimization.
Understanding TDV within the framework of adolescent psychosocial development may provide
new areas for research inquiry (Wolfe & Feiring, 2000), and would also allow the dating violence literature
to contribute to, and benefit from, lifespan perspectives on development (Rutter, 1989).
Indeed, current TDV research increasingly recognizes the role of theory. For example, Martsolf and colleagues
(Draucker, Cook, Martsolf, & Stephenson, 2012; Draucker, Martsolf, & Stephenson, 2012;
Draucker et al., 2010; Draucker et al., 2012; Martsolf, Colbert, & Draucker, 2012; Martsolf, Draucker,
& Brandau, 2013; Martsolf, Draucker, Stephenson, Cook, & Heckman, 2012; Stephenson, Martsolf, &
Draucker, 2013) are conducting a project entitled ‘‘Adolescent Dating Violence: Development of a Theoretical
Framework,’’ where they use a grounded theory approach to develop theory that describes,
explains and predicts how dating violence develops in adolescence (Draucker et al., 2010, p. 601).
Through their research, they have identified types of TDV events (e.g., violating events), types of violent
adolescent relationships (e.g., primarily one-directional and turbulent) and patterns of TDV (e.g.,
one-time, contained; Martsolf, Draucker, et al., 2012). This work demonstrates that a theoretical
orientation can guide and organize novel TDV research.
In order to encourage the inclusion of developmental theory in the study of TDV victimization, the
present paper reviews key tenets of five psychosocial theories of adolescent development (by author
and year: Sullivan (1953), Erikson (1963), Selman (1980), Kegan (1980) and Furman and Wehner
(1994)), and provides suggestions for how these tenets can be incorporated into work on dating
violence. We also consider an opposing view to Erikson’s (1963) theory of adolescent development,
self-in-relation theory, and summarize an important new approach for research on adolescent development,
the narrative approach (McLean & Pasupathi, 2010). Since several longitudinal studies examining
risk for TDV victimization have pointed to the role of the interpersonal environment (e.g., Arriaga
& Foshee, 2004; Foshee, Benefield, Ennett, Bauman, & Suchindran, 2004; Schad, Szwedo, Antonishak,
Hare, & Allen, 2008), and since TDV is an interpersonal experience, a focus on the role of the social
environment in development was chosen. Theories were selected in an iterative manner, by (1)
reviewing popular textbooks and seminal works on adolescent development (e.g., Greene, 2003;
Muuss, 1962; Steinberg, 2008), works that focused on romantic relationship development (e.g.,
Furman, Brown, & Feiring, 1999) and references cited by those works and (2) through discussion with
senior developmentalists, with the goal of identifying theories of adolescent development that most
specifically considered, in the opinion of the author, how development may influence, and be influenced
by, interactions with social others, and that held the most promise for guiding future TDV
research.
D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188 169
In each section of this paper, we summarize key points of each theory as they pertain to adolescents,
focusing on those tenets that seem most relevant for TDV research. We then present selected empirical
literature that explores the various theoretical tenets, using papers that focus on normative adolescent
romantic relationships, as we feel these studies provide direction for research that could be done on
aggressive or violent dating relationships. To identify these empirical articles, we searched PsycInfo
using terms that reflected the key tenets of each theory (e.g., for Sullivan’s (1953) theory, search term
combinations included the words anxiety, intimacy, self-system, romantic relationship, adolescent
and development). The titles and abstracts of returned articles were scanned for potential inclusion,
and the full-text of included articles was then reviewed. At the end of this paper, we suggest several
future questions for TDV research, based on key theoretical tenets. In this paper, adolescence is defined
as the period from ages 10 to 17 (i.e., the periods of early and middle adolescence; Steinberg, 2008).
Selected theories
Sullivan and the interpersonal theory of psychiatry
Sullivan’s (1953)theory of interpersonal psychiatry focuses on the influence of interpersonal communications
on personality development, as well as the concept of anxiety and its potential to disrupt interpersonal
relations. His theory has several tenets, including an implied focus on similarities as opposed to
individual differences (the one genus postulate), an emphasis on heuristic stages in development and an
introduction of the concept of the self-system, which is involved in the maintenance of interpersonal
security, the protection of self-esteem and the avoidance/minimization of anxiety, and which is especially
vulnerable to change at the beginning of each developmental transition (e.g., for adolescents, with
the beginning of puberty and interest in romantic partners; Table 1). Although his developmental stages
are presented in a linear fashion, Sullivan (1953) discusses the possibility of ‘‘arrest of development,’’
which results from interference with important developmental experiences in a particular stage (p.
217); these arrests in development can lead to future problems in interpersonal situations.
Sullivan (1953) also discusses the concept of the polar opposites euphoria and tension, including the
critical importance of tensions in understanding development. Specifically, in each developmental
stage, the tension of a particular need is felt, and this tension results in a tendency to ‘‘integrate
a[n] [interpersonal] situation necessary and appropriate to the satisfaction of a need’’ (p. 93); anxiety
interferes with the integration of an interpersonal situation, and impedes satisfaction of the need. In
the pre-adolescent era, the need is for interpersonal intimacy with a particular same-sex peer, while in
the early adolescent era, the need is for intimacy,1 personal security (i.e., self-esteem and freedom from
anxiety) and lustful satisfaction (Table 1).
The potential for social influence exists in each of Sullivan’s (1953) stages. In the pre- and early
adolescent eras, adolescents use social skills acquired during earlier stages to establish an intimate
relationship with a particular peer. Intimacy, described by Sullivan (1953) as ‘‘the type of situation
involving two people which permits validation of all components of personal worth’’ (p. 246), also permits
collaboration, or the ‘‘clearly formulated adjustments of one’s behavior to the expressed needs of
the other person’’ (p. 246). Because these intimate relationships focus on the mutual satisfaction of the
other, they also serve to diminish anxiety. However, if this intimate exchange does not occur, the adolescent
may experience intense loneliness, which Sullivan (1953) describes as worse than the experience
of anxiety. Early adolescence is focused on finding a romantic partner, though the concepts of
intimacy and lust are distinguished (e.g., one can satisfy lust without having an intimate relationship).
Erikson and the stages of psychosocial development
In Erikson’s (1963, 1968) eight-stage theory of psychosocial development, the individual’s personality
develops as a result of stage-specific psychosocial crises (Table 1). The stage most pertinent to
1 As stated in Sullivan’s theory, the need is for intimacy with an other-sex peer, but is stated more broadly here in order to be
inclusive of sexual minority as well as heterosexual youth.
170 D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188
Table 1
Comparison of five theories of adolescent development.
Sullivan (1953)b Erikson (1963)b Selman (1980)b Kegan (1980)b Furman and Wehner (1994)
Early adolescence (10–
14 years)a
Preadolescence Identity vs. identity confusion Level 2c Stage 3:
Interpersonald
Behavioral systemse
Need for
interpersonal
intimacy (love)
The individual must develop a sense of
identity. If an individual is not able to
develop this (e.g., because of role
confusion), may lead to identity diffusion
Self-reflective/second-person
and reciprocal perspective
taking
Subject: the
interpersonal,
mutuality
Attachment – Goal is to seek out the
attachment figure in times of distress
Capable of interpersonal
negotiation strategy (INS)
Levels 0–2
Object: needs,
interests, wishes
Level 3 Affiliative – Goal is to meet friendship and
companionship needs
Third-person and mutual
perspective taking. Capable of
INS Levels 0–3
Sexual/reproductive – Goal is to meet sexual/
reproductive needs
Middle adolescence (15–
17 years)
Early adolescence Level 4
Need for intimacy,
lust and personal
security
In-depth and societalsymbolic
perspective taking.
Capable of INS Levels 0–3
Caregiving – Reciprocal to the attachment
system. Goal is to keep close others protected
and safe
Late adolescence/
emerging adulthood
(18–25 years)
Late adolescence Intimacy vs. isolation Stage 4:
Institutional
Need for maturity Intimacy is only possible after the
formation of identity. Without intimacy,
the individual will develop a sense of
isolation
Subject:
authorship,
identity, ideology
Object: the
interpersonal,
mutuality
a Age groupings derived from Steinberg (2008) and Arnett (2000). Age groupings are approximate, and are used to facilitate contrasts and comparisons across the four stage-based
theories.
b For the four stage-based theories, bold text refers to stage name, and italicized text describes components of each stage.
c The levels of social perspective taking overlap. Level 2 is from approximately ages 7–12, Level 3 is from approximately ages 10–15, and Level 4 extends from ages 12-adult.
Correspondence to INS levels adapted from Brion-Meisels and Selman (1984), Table 1.
d Although in this table Erikson’s identity vs. identity confusion stage and Kegan’s Stage 3: Interpersonal are both presented as occurring during early/middle adolescence, Kegan (1980)
believes that Erikson’s theory misses a stage before identity, a stage Kegan refers to as affiliation vs. abandonment (pp. 86–87), which reflects the importance of interpersonal relationships
to adolescents. Inserting this missing stage into Erikson’s theory, Kegan (1980) sees identity vs. identity confusion and Stage 4: Institutional as aligning, instead (p. 86).
e Behavioral systems are ‘‘goal-corrected system[s] that function to maintain a relatively steady state between the individual and his/her environment’’ (Furman & Wehner, 1994, p.
176). For further discussion of the role of these systems, see Furman and Wehner (1994) and Hazan and Shaver (1994).
D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188 171
this paper is identity (early/middle adolescence), although the subsequent stage, intimacy (late adolescence/emerging
adulthood), is also considered. The resolution of each stage is accompanied by the
development of a key psychosocial strength (Erikson, 1966, 1982); in the identity crisis, this strength
is fidelity (or, ‘‘the ability to sustain loyalties freely pledged in spite of the inevitable contradictions of
values systems,’’ 1966, p. 124). During identity development, the individual must answer questions
about who they are; the identity crisis is a pivotal stage in an individual’s development and if this crisis
is not adequately resolved, identity confusion may result (Erikson, 1968).
Though originally referring to all identity under the rubric of ego identity, in Erikson’s (1980) later
writings, he clarifies that three types of identity must be formed: ego identity (sameness and continuity
across time and space), personal identity (sense of individual identity) and social identity (being in
accord with a group’s ideals). Schwartz and Pantin (2006) elaborated on this model to also include ethnic
and cultural identity. In a further expansion, Grotevant, Thorbecke, and Meyer (1982) explored
identity development in a sample of 81 male and female senior high school students, and found justification
for the inclusion of interpersonal domains, including friendship, dating and sex roles. A popular
operationalization of Erikson’s identity crisis was provided by Marcia (1966), who discussed four
personal identity statuses, divided along the continuums of exploration and commitment: identity
achievement (high exploration, high commitment); moratorium (high exploration, low commitment);
diffusion (low exploration, low commitment); and foreclosure (low exploration, high commitment).
Of relevance to adolescent romantic relationships, Erikson (1968) saw adolescent love as an
attempt to arrive at a definition of one’s own identity; through this process, the individual projects
his or her ‘‘diffused self-image on another and by seeing it thus reflected and gradually clarified’’
(p. 132). Unlike Sullivan, however, Erikson felt that intimacy is not (and cannot be) developed until
after the formation of identity, whereas Sullivan’s (1953) theory sees intimacy as a key part of personality
development. Relevant to this difference of opinion, Beyers and Seiffge-Krenke (2010) recently
examined three waves of longitudinal data from 93 German males and females. Data were collected
during adolescence (mean age = 15.3 years) and emerging adulthood (mean age = 24.1 (Wave 7) and
25.3 (Wave 8) years). Using a cross-lagged model, they found that ego development in adolescence
predicted intimacy at age 25 for both males and females, but that the converse relationship did not
hold. The relationship between ego development and intimacy was mediated by relational identity
achievement at age 24. Also exploring development of identity and intimacy, Montgomery (2005)
found that male middle school students (grades 7–9) scored higher than female middle school students
on psychosocial identity, and that female college students scored higher than male college students
on psychosocial intimacy. Female college students also reported significantly greater intimacy
than female middle school students, while there was no significant difference in intimacy reported
by males in these age groups. Thus, while the Beyers and Seiffge-Krenke (2010) study supports
Erikson’s progression of identity to intimacy for males and females, the findings of Montgomery
(2005) suggest there may be important gender-related developmental differences.
Critique: Self-in-relation theory
In their theoretical proposal, Smith et al. (2009) and White (2009) specifically focus on the role of
gender in shaping the ecological contexts that may influence interpersonal aggression, and several
authors have critiqued Erikson’s framework for its focus on autonomy as more relevant to male development,
since female development is theorized to be more relational in nature (Gilligan, 1982;
Greene, 2003; Jordan, 1997; Jordan & Surrey, 1986; J. B. Miller, 1986). In her book on female psychological
development, Greene (2003) discusses that Erikson’s conjecture—that identity must precede
intimacy—thus may not be applicable to women; one theory that stands in opposition to this view
is self-in-relation theory, developed by feminist scholars at the Stone Center. This theory posits that
women’s development is ‘‘organized around being able to make and then maintain affiliations and
relationships’’ (J. B. Miller, 1986, p. 83), and that the self is a ‘‘self-in-relation-to-others rather than
a self-as-separate-from-others’’ (P. H. Miller, 2000, p. 53). Since the self is developed within the context
of important interpersonal relationships, this challenges the idea that intimacy, a sharing of oneself
with another, can only occur once the self is fully formed.
Although empirical evidence exists for both the Erikson and self-in-relation understandings of
development, one explanation for differing findings may be how the constructs of identity and
172 D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188
intimacy are assessed. For example, Lacombe and Gay (1998) found that high school females gave
lower intimacy scores than males in scenarios asking them to consider the relative importance of
identity vs. intimacy, which would not seem to support the self-in-relation model. However, when
written responses to dilemmas were analyzed, female participants used more explanations that
included elements of both identity and intimacy, whereas males were more likely to use identity
explanations only: a more accurate understanding of differing developmental trajectories may thus
be facilitated by multi-method research, including work analyzing adolescent narratives (see the
Empirical section, below).
Selman and the development of interpersonal understanding
Selman (1980) proposed a stage-based, social-cognitive theory of interpersonal understanding,
which focuses on the development of social cognition, specifically, the development of social (selfother)
perspective taking. Describing this theory, Selman (1980) presents five levels of interpersonal
understanding; the level of the individual provides the structure for his/her behavior in social situations,
though the expression of interpersonal understanding is also reciprocally influenced by social
context. Selman (1980) also details the use of interpersonal understanding in four specific domains
(individual, friendship, peer group, parent–child), and across multiple issues within each domain
(e.g., the issue of conflict resolution in the friendship domain), presenting levels of interpersonal
understanding for each issue, as well as a general description of interpersonal understanding for each
domain (see Selman, 1980, pp. 131–151).
Based on interview data from over 200 males and females, Selman (1980) reported that general
levels of social perspective taking present in the adolescent years are typically 2 (ages 7–12), 3
(ages 10–15) and 4 (ages 12-adult; Table 1). In Level 2, adolescents can reflect on their thoughts
and actions and can also take another’s perspective; however, they are unable to coordinate another
person’s perspective with their own. By Level 3, however, adolescents are able to coordinate the perspectives
of self and other (by using a third-person viewpoint), and thus can mutually share thoughts
and ideas. They are also capable of engaging in self-reflection. Support for the development of thirdperson
perspective-taking during adolescence has also been provided by reaction time paradigms
(Choudhury, Blakemore, & Charman, 2006) and fMRI (Burnett, Bird, Moll, Frith, & Blakemore, 2009).
In Level 4, adolescents participate in in-depth perspective-taking (which recognizes the complexity
of human behavior) and can accommodate multiple points of view, considering not only the dyad’s
perspective, but also the perspectives of other social structures (e.g., legal structures). Although an
individual is generally characterized by their highest level of interpersonal understanding in an interview
setting, and their developmental progression is usually linear across time, there may be differences
in level exhibited by situational context (Mischo, 2005; Selman, 1980). For example, in more
naturalistic settings (e.g., classroom observation), children may use higher levels of interpersonal
understanding than they exhibit in an interview (Selman, 1980).
Discussing self-other perspective taking as it pertains to interpersonal negotiation strategies within
meaningful interpersonal relationships, Brion-Meisels and Selman (1984) argue that these negotiation
strategies, an important aspect of social competence, are the result of structural, functional and contextual
components. The structural component is comprised of perspective-coordination and interpersonal
orientation, and is divided into four levels: unreflective (impulsive) physical strategies (Level 0);
one-way commands, threats or obedience (Level 1); reciprocal exchange (Level 2); and mutual collaborations
(Level 3) (Table 1; see also Selman, Beardslee, Schultz, Krupa, & Podorefsky, 1986). While the
development of the perspective-coordination structure allows the adolescent to incorporate the perspectives
of self and other, the development of the interpersonal orientation structure indicates how
the adolescent will act to create change (i.e., if the adolescent acts to change the self or change others).
Functional negotiation skills, which are influenced by the structural level of the individual, include the
ability to (a) label the problem; (b) generate alternative solutions; (c) anticipate consequences for self
and other(s) (and select and implement a specific strategy); and (d) evaluate results (Brion-Meisels &
Selman, 1984, p. 284; see also Selman et al., 1986 and Yeates, Schultz, & Selman, 1991). The contextual
component includes social and situational factors that can impact negotiation strategy; these factors
D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188 173
may also include phenomena of adolescent development (e.g., increased susceptibility to peer influence;
Feldman & Gowen, 1998).
Kegan and the constructive-developmental framework
In his book ‘‘The Evolving Self’’, Kegan (1980) focuses on the development of personality through
meaning-making activity (i.e., the process through which the individual makes sense of his or her
experiences), with a consideration of the cognitive, affective and social influences on this process.
Two central ideas of this theory are constructivism (i.e., that individuals construct reality) and developmentalism
(i.e., that individuals evolve through stages according to principles of stability and change;
p. 8). Movement between stages involves balancing and re-balancing between what is subject (self)
and what is object (other); this movement, or evolutionary activity, is considered by Kegan (1980) to
be the fundamental activity of personality development, with each individual organizing his/her experiences
in qualitatively different ways (p. 81). Transitions occur as individuals find their current way of
meaning-making incompatible with their increasingly complex social reality. During each transition,
the individual may initially experience anxiety and depression, as they differentiate between what
was subject (self) and now is object (other), followed by anger and repudiation, as they work to relate
to the newly-created object (p. 82); successful movement requires the culture of embeddedness, which
functions to support growth, change and re-integration (e.g., in Stage 3, Interpersonal, the culture is
mutually reciprocal, one-to-one relationships). Evolution through the stages also includes a consideration
of both autonomy and integration, as stages alternate between being overly focused on independence
(e.g., Stage 2) and overly focused on inclusion (e.g., Stage 3) (Table 1).
Progression through Kegan’s (1980) six stages involves moving from embeddedness in (i.e., I am) to
a relationship between (i.e., I have) subject and object. Since Kegan (1980) does not consider an individual
an adolescent until Stage 3 (p. 178), we focus on this stage here. During the transition to Stage
3, the individual begins to have needs instead of being them, and so can now participate in reciprocal,
interpersonal relationships (Kegan, 1979). In the Stage 3 self, the individual exists only as part of
shared realities (i.e., ‘‘you are the other by whom I complete myself, the other whom I need to create
the context out of which I define and know myself and the world,’’ Kegan, 1980, p. 100), and thus the
ability for third-person perspective taking does not exist; Kegan (1980) also discusses that conflicts
experienced during Stage 3 result from differences between what the individual wants as part of multiple
shared realities. Because of the centrality of interpersonal relationships to the Stage 3 self, the
individual may repress (or not experience) anger as a consequence ‘‘of the fear of disrupting a relationship
and losing the context for the psychologic of self’’ (Kegan, Noam, & Rogers, 1982, p. 113). As a
result of this repression, Kegan (1979) notes that the interpersonal stage carries a special risk for being
victimized or taken advantage of, since the individual ‘‘cannot know themselves separate from the
interpersonal context; instead, they are more likely to feel sad, wounded or incomplete’’ (p. 14).
Kegan (1979) also notes that the Stage 3 interpersonal is not intimate, because ‘‘what might appear
to be intimacy here is the self’s source rather than its aim…fusion is not intimacy’’ (p. 14). This is similar
to Erikson’s (1980) discussion of why identity must precede genuine intimacy (i.e., ‘‘the condition
of a true twoness is that one must first become oneself,’’ p. 101). In Kegan’s (1980) Stage 3–4 transition,
the individual moves away from the definition of him or herself in the context of others’ expectations,
and towards autonomy and identity formation; Kegan (1979) compares his Stage 4 to
Erikson’s identity vs. identity confusion stage (Table 1).
Furman and Wehner and a behavioral systems conceptualization for adolescent romantic relationships
Several previous TDV theory papers have referenced attachment theory (Burton et al., 2011; Shorey
et al., 2008; Ulloa et al., 2013), a theory used to understand romantic love in adult relationships (Hazan
& Shaver, 1987). As described by Bowlby (1969) and Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, and Wall (1978),
attachment theory focuses on the attachment relationship, an emotionally significant relationship that
provides comfort and security (for a comprehensive review, and discussion of the role of the attachment
system in romantic relationships, see Hazan and Shaver (1994)). In infancy, individuals usually
become attached to their primary caregiver: based on the responsiveness of this caregiver, the infant
174 D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188
develops a secure, anxious-avoidant or anxious-ambivalent attachment style (Ainsworth et al., 1978),
and these styles have implications for an individual’s emotion regulation. Through these early experiences,
an individual also builds an internal working model (IWM), or cognitive representation of relationships
(Hazan & Shaver, 1994). In adolescence and adulthood, attachment models are typically
referred to as dismissing (i.e., positive view of self, negative view of others), preoccupied (i.e., negative
view of self, positive view of others), secure (i.e., positive view of self and others) and fearful (i.e., negative
view of self and others; Bartholomew & Horowitz, 1991).2 In work on romantic relationships,
authors may also discuss relationship anxiety or relationship avoidance; these styles correspond to preoccupied
and dismissing attachment models, respectively (Berman, Weems, Rodriguez, & Zamora, 2006).
Since they contribute to an individual’s expectations and behaviors in relationships, the IWMs discussed
by attachment theory may be specifically of interest to researchers investigating TDV; however,
consideration of more recent work as it pertains to adolescent romantic relationships is also
beneficial. Considering the adolescent context specifically, Furman and Wehner (1994) described a
behavioral systems conceptualization for adolescent romantic relationships, based on the work of
both Bowlby and Sullivan. This framework is comprised of four key behavioral systems – the affiliative
system, the sexual behavioral system, the attachment system and the caregiving system – that develop
over the course of adolescence (Table 1). During adolescence, romantic partners will become important
figures in each of these systems: in their earliest romantic relationships, adolescents are generally
unconcerned with the systems as they pertain to romantic partners, instead focusing on ‘‘who they
are, how attractive they are, how they should interact with someone, and how it all looks to their peer
group’’ (Furman & Wehner, 1997, p. 23), but over the developmental period, affiliative and sexual
behaviors with romantic partners will emerge, followed by attachment and caregiving behaviors
(though these latter behaviors are not likely to emerge until late adolescence/early adulthood). In
addition, key figures in the adolescent’s life (parents, peers and romantic partners) are organized in
a hierarchy, in order of the importance of that relationship to the adolescent. Generally, affiliative
and attachment functions will first transfer from parents to peers, and then to romantic partners
(Furman & Wehner, 1994); romantic partners will move up the hierarchy as the relationship develops,
and as the adolescent him or herself develops (Furman & Buhrmester, 1992).
Another central concept of the behavioral systems conceptualization is relationship views (see Footnote
2), which provide the cognitive schema for expectations of relationships, and which are developed
through interactions and experiences in past and current relationships (Furman & Wehner,
1994). For example, looking at two-year longitudinal relationships between social interactions and
attachment style in three age cohorts (early, mid- and late adolescence), Doyle, Lawford, and
Markiewicz (2009) found that insecurity with a best friend at Time 1 predicted insecurity with a
romantic partner at Time 2. However, although views influence each other, Furman and Wehner
(1994) discuss that the characteristics of past relationships interact with the characteristics of the
present relationship to create the relationship-specific view; as such, views of different relationships
should be only somewhat related, since individuals are theorized to have separate views of each specific
relationship. In support of this, Furman et al. (2002) found that working model ratings given for
friend and romantic relationships were only moderately correlated (mean r = .42) in a sample of high
school seniors. Finally, the relationship-specific view pertains to all four behavioral systems, and not
just the attachment system (Furman & Wehner, 1994).
Comparison of theories
Several similarities among these five theories can be drawn. The four stage-based theories (Sullivan,
Erikson, Selman and Kegan) all discuss the possibility that an adolescent may validate and define
him or herself through his or her interpersonal relationships. Sullivan (1953) and Furman and Wehner
(1994) both discuss the potential for the influence of anxiety on behavior, though differ on whether
2 Furman and Wehner (1994) discuss the distinction between unconscious IWMs and conscious relationship styles. Relational
working models refer to ‘‘internalized representations of relationships’’ while relational styles refer to ‘‘self-perceptions of
representations of relationships’’ (Furman, Simon, Shaffer, & Bouchey, 2002, p. 243). These two types of representations are
subsumed under the concept relationship views (Furman & Wehner, 1994).
D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188 175
this anxiety is a result of perceived or received interpersonal experience. Intimacy permeates all of
Sullivan’s theory, and is also considered by Erikson, Selman and Kegan; however, for the latter three,
intimacy may have deleterious effects if it results in (off-time) overdependence. This intimacy–
autonomy balance is also relevant to the relationship views of the behavioral systems framework.
Finally, all five theories focus on development as a process of interaction between the individual
and the social environment, and all have room for developmental arrest, which may help explain
developmentally off-time behaviors, as well as certain adverse outcomes. For example, given associations
between child maltreatment and TDV victimization (e.g., Foshee et al., 2004), investigators
could use one (or more) of the presented theories to more fully consider how this adverse social
experience is implicated in increased risk for dating violence.
Empirical work on key theoretical tenets in adolescent romantic relationships
Sullivan: Anxiety and intimacy
To summarize Sullivan’s (1953) theory, anxiety and intimacy exhibit bidirectional influences on
each other: anxiety can interfere with the satisfaction of the need for intimacy, and intimate relationships
themselves can influence anxiety. If intimacy is disrupted, intense loneliness may result. In the
search for empirical articles exploring anxiety in adolescent samples, the fear of negative evaluation
(FNE) component of social anxiety (Rapee & Heimberg, 1997) seemed most related to Sullivan’s
(1953) description of anxiety (i.e., ‘‘anticipated unfavorable appraisal of one’s current activity by
someone whose opinion is significant,’’ p. 113). With FNE, the adolescent is concerned about a negative
evaluation from the audience (e.g., being worried what others think, say and feel about you; La
Greca & Lopez, 1998), including the developmentally significant evaluation of dating partners. In a
sample of 757 senior high school students (mean age = 16.6), Glickman and La Greca (2004) found that
FNE experienced in dating relationships (FNE-Dating) was correlated with depression, social distress
in dating situations and social distress in mixed-gender groups. FNE-Dating was also significantly
greater in 10th grade compared to 11th grade students, but there was no difference by gender. Both
of these findings lend support to Sullivan’s (1953) theory, since anxiety was associated with negative
well-being, predicted by the theory to be the result of a disruption to intimacy (though this pathway
was not explored in Glickman and La Greca’s (2004) study), and since anxiety was greater in younger
students, whose self-systems’ are predicted to be more vulnerable to disruption. Using this same sample,
La Greca and Mackey (2007) reported that having ever dated and having a current romantic partner
were both associated with less FNE-Dating. Further, in the subsample who had ever dated
(n = 433), positive interactions with a romantic partner (e.g., relationships characterized by companionship
and affection) were associated with less FNE-Dating, while negative interactions with a
romantic partner were associated with more FNE-Dating. This provides support for Sullivan’s
(1953) conjecture that disruptions vs. enhancements to intimacy, as indexed in the La Greca and
Mackey (2007) study by dating behavior, are differentially associated with anxiety, and together, these
two studies support the bidirectional influence of anxiety and intimacy proposed by Sullivan’s theory.
La Greca and Mackey (2007) also found that a more negative relationship with a best friend (e.g., a
relationship with conflict and exclusion) was positively associated with increased FNE-Dating, suggesting
that a disruption of intimacy in one interpersonal context may lead to increased anxiety in
a different interpersonal domain; however, the pathway underlying this association was not explored.
Erikson: Interpersonal identity
Of interest to this review is the development of relational or interpersonal identity (i.e., who am I in
relationships?).3 Although this is a relatively small body of work (Morgan & Korobov, 2012), several
3 Although interpersonal identity is an expansion of Erikson’s (1963, 1968) identity construct, it was chosen as the key tenet of
his theory in this review because of its relevance to the epidemiology of interpersonal victimization. We feel this choice is
appropriate because interpersonal identity fits within the larger psychosocial identity crisis considered by Erikson (Grotevant et al.,
1982), with exploration and commitment in the interpersonal domains occurring during the adolescent period.
176 D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188
studies in early adolescents have been conducted. For example, using a sample of students in grades six
through eight (n = 356), Allison and Schultz (2001) found that, in relation to four interpersonal identity
domains (friendship, dating, sex roles and recreation), of those who could be classified,4 30% of their sample
was in diffusion, 33% was in foreclosure, 21% was in moratorium and 16% was in achievement.
Females and older students were more likely to be in diffusion or foreclosure than their male and younger
counterparts, respectively; in regards to the latter finding, the authors suggest this may be because
interpersonal identity issues are more salient for older adolescents, an idea that aligns with Erikson’s
writings (while the finding that these issues may be more salient for female than male adolescents provides
support for the self-in-relation model). Looking at interpersonal identity development in different
groups of German siblings (n = 214, mean age = 11.2 years), Watzlawik and Clodius (2011) found that for
all siblings (monozygotic twins, dizygotic twins and non-twins), exploration in the identity domains of
best friends and romantic relationships increased over the three waves (one year) of the study, while
commitment in the sibling domain decreased. Differences by gender were not explored. Together, these
two studies demonstrate the increasing salience of interpersonal, including romantic, identity realms
with age, though the findings of Allison and Schultz (2001) suggest exploration in the interpersonal
domains is just emerging in middle school. In other work with adolescents in middle school, high school
and college (n = 493), Montgomery (2005) found that idealization (e.g., ‘‘the relationship I will have with
my true love will be nearly perfect,’’ p. 354) decreased across these age groups, being the highest in middle
school; it is possible the decrease in idealization was thus related to increased exploration in the
romantic identity domain with age.
Selman: Interpersonal negotiation strategies
Within Selman’s theoretical and empirical work, research on interpersonal negotiation strategies
may be of special interest, since several TDV prevention programs include conflict management/negotiation
training (e.g., Foshee et al., 1996). Empirical research on conflict negotiation in adolescent
romantic relationships highlights the importance of individual and contextual differences in understanding
interpersonal negotiation styles and strategies. Using hypothetical dilemmas, including
dilemmas discussing romantic relationships, Selman et al. (1986) examined functional skills related
to conflict negotiation in a sample of 90 male and female adolescents aged 11–19. In this sample, they
found that older age, gender (female) and higher IQ were related to higher predicted scores on labeling
the problem and anticipating consequences for self and others, whereas age only was related to evaluating
results, and gender and IQ only were related to generating alternative solutions. Feldman and
Gowen (1998) also report gender and age differences in conflict negotiation tactics. In their study, they
examined use of six romantic relationship conflict negotiation strategies (compromise, distraction,
avoidance, overt anger, social support, violence) in a group of high school students from California
(n = 869, mean age = 16.0), and found that girls were significantly more likely to report the use of overt
anger and compromise, while boys were significantly more likely to report the use of distraction.
Participants aged 16 or older were also significantly more likely to use compromise than participants
who were younger than 16. Both studies support Brion-Meisels and Selman’s (1984) conjecture that
negotiation strategy can be affected by contextual factors, which for these two studies included
several individual difference variables.
McIsaac, Connolly, McKenney, Pepler, and Craig (2008) used actor–partner interdependence models
(APIM) to investigate the impact of individual and partner conflict negotiation strategies on selfexpression,
respectful expression and acceptance of differences (collectively referred to as autonomy)
in a sample of 37 11th-grade Canadian couples. Observing a videotaped interaction between the couple,
McIsaac et al. (2008) found that girls’ autonomy was affected only by their own conflict negotiation
style, such that greater facilitative negotiation (e.g., asking open-ended questions) was associated
with greater personal autonomy, while increases in restrictive negotiation (e.g., stating disinterest)
were associated with less personal autonomy. Boys’ autonomy, however, was primarily influenced
4 Approximately 45% of the sample could not be classified because they scored below the cutoff point on all four statuses, or
because they scored above the cutoff point in three or four categories.
D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188 177
by the joint effect of own and partner’s negotiation styles: if the conjoint effect was facilitative, boys’
autonomy increased, whereas if the conjoint effect was restrictive, boys’ autonomy decreased. The
only exception to this joint effect was for restrictive negotiation and respectful expression; in this
case, respectful expression was associated with boys’ own negotiation style only (i.e., no joint effect).
This study demonstrates that the interpersonal setting can also serve as a contextual variable affecting
conflict negotiation styles and strategies, and that there may be interactions between persons and
their environment that further complicate how context affects negotiation.
Related to the context-specific regression discussed by Selman (1980), Furman and Shomaker
(2008) found that in a sample of 32 adolescents from the western United States (mean age = 15 years,
4.5 months), participants exhibited more conflict with romantic partners than with friends during a
video-taped discussion task. Considering Selman’s (1980) arguments, it is plausible that since romantic
relationships are a new context for adolescents, participants in Furman and Shomaker’s (2008)
study exhibited context-specific regression, since the romantic relationship setting may be less comfortable
than the more familiar peer group (Giordano, Manning, & Longmore, 2006). Supporting this,
when testing the peer vs. adult context, Selman et al. (1986) found that adolescents generally exhibited
higher-level interpersonal negotiation strategies with peer-oriented vignettes than with those
that were adult-oriented, which may again be due to greater comfort in the peer context.
Kegan: Interpersonal embeddedness
In Kegan’s (1980) theory, adolescents define themselves by their relationships, and the relationships
that comprise the culture of embeddedness will primarily be those with peers (p. 167), including
romantic partners. While an established literature demonstrates the increasing importance of romantic
relationships in the adolescent period (e.g., Collins, Welsh, & Furman, 2009; Furman et al., 1999),
the interpersonal orientation described by Kegan (1980) seems most amenable to qualitative investigation,
because of its focus on individual meaning-making. Qualitative studies on dating violence, and
adolescent romantic relationships generally, are a growing field of inquiry (e.g., Giordano, Manning, &
Longmore, 2010; Weisz & Black, 2008; Williams & Hickle, 2010), but are not usually informed by a
specific developmental framework. For example, Giordano et al. (2010) collected survey data from
7th, 9th and 11th grade students in the midwestern United States (n = 570), and found that greater
enmeshment (e.g., seeing the partner and self as practically inseparable) was associated with greater
odds of sexual intercourse, and that this association held across gender and grade. However, although
they used interview data from a subsample of 100 participants to explore this association (e.g., finding
that viewing the relationship as a departure from the norm was related to seeing the relationship as
special, which might increase the likelihood of sexual behavior, p. 1002), richer understanding of individual
(age, gender, etc.) differences in and effects of enmeshment on sexual development could be
gained by re-analyzing such data using Kegan’s stages.
Work aiming to achieve this deeper understanding may also be aided by a narrative approach to
adolescent identity development, a relatively new area in the adolescent arena (Pasupathi &
McLean, 2010). The narrative approach proposes that each person has a personal narrative, and that
the personal interpretation of events contained in this narrative is an essential part of the self-concept
(Reese, Yan, Jack, & Hayne, 2010). From available empirical work, it appears that narratives become
increasingly complex over the course of adolescence (Genereux & McKeough, 2007; McLean, Breen,
& Fournier, 2010; Pasupathi & McLean, 2010). A narrative approach has been used by Draucker,
Cook, et al. (2012) in their work on dating violence theory and to understand relationship functioning
during conflict and discussion in mid- and late adolescent couples (Feiring, Jashar, & Heleniak, 2010;
Galliher, Enno, & Wright, 2008), and could also be used to explore Kegan’s (1980) theory as it pertains
to experiences in normative (healthy) and non-normative (unhealthy) adolescent romantic relationships.
A narrative approach is also advocated by feminist theorists as a way to include considerations
of gender in developmental work (Scholnick, 2000), and is amenable to considerations of timing of
events and age, which are important to a more comprehensive understanding of lifespan
development.
While relationships during adolescence are hypothesized by Kegan (1980) to support the development
of interpersonal competencies, Kegan also discusses that a consequence of the interpersonal
178 D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188
orientation of this stage may be self-silencing (i.e., inhibiting self-expression and action to avoid con-
flict and relationship loss; Jack & Dill, 1992, p. 98). Exploring this event in 211 adolescent couples
(mean age = 17.0 years), Harper, Dickson, and Welsh (2006) found that self-silencing partially mediated
the relationship between rejection anxiety/expectations and depressive symptomatology in both
males and females. From Kegan’s (1980) theory, it is possible that youth with higher rejection anxiety/
expectations were more heavily embedded in the interpersonal, which contributed to greater selfsilencing
as a result of the fear of losing the interpersonal relationship, and subsequent depressive
symptoms. Alternatively, Kegan (1980) discusses that depression may emerge during the initial transition
out of any developmental stage, and it is also possible that because of the loss of self occurring
during this transition, the pathway to depression may involve the individual becoming especially
rejection sensitive, and more likely to self-silence. Follow-up interview data would help clarify these
relationships, and provide understanding regarding the use of self-silencing behaviors as they relate to
developmental stage. In another study with this same sample, Harper and Welsh (2007) found that
self-silencing was associated with poorer global communication and perceptions of giving in on the
part of the actor and to the partner’s feelings of frustration during the interaction among both male
and female participants. Self-silencing was also associated with lower relationship satisfaction among
female participants only, with Harper and Welsh (2007) suggesting this may be because motivations
for use of self-silencing differed for males and females, though they did not specifically explore this in
their analysis. Feelings of frustration are hypothesized by Kegan (1980) to occur during later phases of
developmental transition (with feelings of depression occurring earlier); however, whether the selfsilencing
individual him/herself felt frustrated during the interaction was not reported by Harper
and Welsh (2007). By considering both frustration and depression among self-silencers, hypotheses
regarding differing motivation for self-silencing by developmental stage could be explored, as well
as hypotheses regarding differential mediators of the self-silencing/relationship satisfaction relationship.
In these types of analyses, qualitative data would again help clarify and deepen understanding,
including around gender differences in use of self-silencing; the narrative approach can also be used to
explore these experiences (Weeks & Pasupathi, 2010).
Furman and Wehner: Relationship views
The relationship views of Furman and Wehner’s (1994) behavioral systems conceptualization for
adolescent romantic relationships have been a more active topic of research in these relationships
than the selected key tenets of the other theories. For example, regarding how relationship views
(across caregiving, affiliative and attachment systems) may affect interactions in romantic relationships,
Furman and Simon (2006) engaged 68 adolescent couples (mean age = 18.1 years) in seven 6-
min discussions (e.g., on a goal the partner had), and looked at how working models and styles were
related to interactions observed during discussions using APIM. For both boys and girls, own secure
models were related to positive interaction variables for self and partner (e.g., affective expression),
but secure styles were not (see Footnote 2 for a discussion of styles vs. models). Associations between
own secure models and positive interaction variables were more numerous for girls. Dismissing styles
and models were negatively related to several positive interaction variables in both boys and girls, but
only a preoccupied model was associated with increased conflict. These findings relate to results from
Doyle et al. (2009), who found that security with romantic partners was most strongly (and negatively)
correlated with a preoccupied style, suggesting that ‘‘insecurity in romantic relationships is
characterized primarily by anxiety over being hurt, rejected, found unappealing, or betrayed,’’ as
opposed to insecurity characterized by discomfort with interpersonal closeness (p. 707), an idea also
supported by the conjectures of both Sullivan (1953) and Kegan (1980).
Relationship views, as they pertain to the attachment system, may also be related to the order of
the attachment hierarchy. In a study of 99 Midwestern high school juniors and seniors (mean
age = 17.3 years), Freeman and Brown (2001) found that individuals with an insecure attachment style
preferred their best friend, or if available, a romantic partner, as their primary source of support. However,
secure adolescents preferred their mother over their best friend (among secure adolescents with
a romantic partner, there was no clear preference for mother or best friend), which Freeman and
Brown (2001) suggest results from a recognition among secure adolescents of the more reliable nature
D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188 179
of their supportive parental relationships, while insecure youth looked outside the family for a more
dependable primary attachment figure (p. 666).
Relevance of key tenets to TDV victimization research
The key tenets of each theory (in order of presentation, anxiety and intimacy, interpersonal identity,
interpersonal negotiation strategies, interpersonal embeddedness and relationship views) are
promising frameworks for future research in the TDV field; this research can also draw on past empirical
work on these tenets in normative adolescent romantic relationships (see Table 2 for a summary
of key tenets, empirical findings and questions for TDV research). Because of the limited empirical
work guided by Sullivan’s (1953) theory, research using his tenets as organizing theory to investigate
dating violence would be a valuable contribution. To our knowledge, no published research has
explored associations between anxiety, intimacy and risk for dating violence victimization, though
past work has explored associations between FNE and dating violence perpetration in university students
(Hanby, Fales, Nangle, Serwik, & Hedrich, 2012) and between peer victimization, FNE and loneliness
in high school students (Chen & Graham, 2012; Storch, Brassard, & Masia-Warner, 2003).
Possible questions for TDV research include if dating violence victimization, especially psychological
victimization, increases FNE, and if so, if this increased FNE is associated with intimacy disruptions
in future romantic relationships or in other interpersonal domains (e.g., friendship), and the potential
impact(s) of intimacy disruptions on developmental progress. Conversely, victimization may more
directly interfere with intimacy in future relationships, which may in turn lead to increased anxiety
and associated adverse outcomes. Given that the self-system is theorized to be especially vulnerable
at the beginning of adolescence, a time when adolescents are starting to date (Carver, Joyner, & Udry,
2003), researchers can also consider whether TDV has a compounded impact at younger ages.
In the adolescent era, Erikson’s (1963, 1968) theory focuses on identity, and given reviewed empirical
research, additional work on the development of interpersonal identity is needed, including on
this development in the context of TDV victimization; since the salience of the interpersonal domains
is emerging at the same age as dating violence (Foshee & Reyes, 2007), what is the developmental
impact of victimization on interpersonal identity exploration and commitment? Also, how does identity
status affect risk for victimization – for example, through a relationship between identity status
and precocious dating behaviors (e.g., if interpersonal identity in the romantic domain is foreclosed,
is this associated with increased off-time dating, which in turn is related to risk for victimization)?
Identity status may also be linked to adverse outcomes. Studying peer relationships, Dumas, Ellis,
and Wolfe (2012) found that identity development across multiple domains was negatively associated
with substance use and deviant behavior in a sample of Canadian public high school students
(n = 1070, mean age = 15.5), with individuals low in identity commitment more likely to use substances,
and individuals low in identity exploration more likely to participate in deviant behavior,
when they experienced higher levels of peer pressure. Since TDV victimization is associated with both
substance use and delinquent behavior (Exner-Cortens et al., 2013), as well as other adverse outcomes,
future research could investigate interactions between interpersonal identity commitment/exploration
and dating aggression as they relate to health and well-being (e.g., psychological aggression might
function as peer pressure did in the Dumas et al. (2012) study). We should also consider interpersonal
identity construction in primary and secondary TDV prevention programs; as interpersonal identity is
still developing during adolescence, parents and other trusted adults play a role in helping the adolescent
determine how he/she sees him/herself in relationships (Draucker, Martsolf, et al., 2012, p. 155).
Using an identity perspective, for example, research could consider how parents (and potentially
peers) can best combat the negative interpersonal identity an adolescent may construct in an aggressive
relationship.
The studies on interpersonal negotiation strategies suggest the need to consider individual differences
and interpersonal context when designing TDV prevention programs. For example, how can programs
promote higher-level negotiation in the new interpersonal setting of romantic relationships? In
one approach, the evidence-based dating violence prevention program Fourth R (Wolfe et al., 2009)
has participants master written conflict negotiation responses before proceeding to oral conflict
180 D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188
Table 2
Summary of key tenets, empirical findings and questions for teen dating violence.
Theory Key tenet(s) Empirical findings Questions
Sullivan
(1953)
Anxiety and
intimacy
Fear of negative evaluation (FNE)-Dating, a component of social anxiety,
is associated with greater depression and social distress in dating
situations and mixed gender groups (Glickman & La Greca, 2004)
o FNE-Dating decreases with age
Dating experience is generally associated with less FNE-Dating (La
Greca & Mackey, 2007)
o But, negative interactions with a dating partner are associated
with more FNE-Dating
o Negative interactions with a best friend are also associated with
more FNE-Dating
What is the relationship between anxiety, intimacy and TDV
victimization?
o Does TDV victimization (especially psychological victimization)
increase FNE, and is this increased FNE associated with intimacy
disruptions in future relationships?
o Or, is TDV more directly implicated in intimacy disruptions,
which predicts increased social anxiety and subsequent adverse
outcomes?
Are these effects compounded for younger adolescents?
Erikson
(1963)
Interpersonal
identity
Interpersonal identity exploration increases with age (Allison &
Schultz, 2001; Watzlawik & Clodius, 2011), and interpersonal identity
issues may be more salient for females (Allison & Schultz, 2001)
o Possibly related to this increased exploration in the interpersonal
domain, idealization of romantic relationships (e.g., my true love
will be nearly perfect) decreases from middle school to college
(Montgomery, 2005)
What is the developmental impact of TDV victimization on interpersonal
identity exploration and commitment?
Does interpersonal identity status affect risk for victimization?
How is identity status implicated in the TDV-adverse outcome relationship,
especially for psychological aggression victimization?
How can prevention and intervention work combat the negative
interpersonal identity adolescents may construct in the presence of
dating violence?
Selman
(1980)
Interpersonal
negotiation
strategies
Functional negotiation skills – labeling the problem, generating alternative
solutions, anticipating consequences for self and others, evaluating
results – and negotiation strategies with a romantic partner
are influenced by individual differences, including age, gender and
IQ (Feldman & Gowen, 1998; Selman et al., 1986)
o Characteristics of the interpersonal setting may also influence
negotiation style, with differences by gender (McIsaac et al.,
2008)
Regression in negotiation strategy may occur in the less comfortable
romantic relationship setting, compared to the more familiar peer
environment (Furman & Shomaker, 2008)
How can prevention programs promote higher-level interpersonal
negotiation strategies in the romantic relationship setting?
Looking more ecologically, what other contextual and individual difference
variables affect conflict negotiation in adolescent romantic
relationships (e.g., stress reactivity)? Are there variables on which
we can more actively intervene?
o What is the process by which these variables affect conflict negotiation
in healthy and unhealthy adolescent romantic
relationships?
Kegan
(1980)
Interpersonal
embeddedness
Qualitative research is needed to unpack the meaning of empirical
findings through the lens of Kegan’s stages
o A narrative approach may also prove useful
Self-silencing, a potential consequence of interpersonal embeddedness,
partially explains the relationship between rejection anxiety/
expectations and depressive symptomatology in adolescent romantic
relationships (Harper et al., 2006)
How is reality constructed when TDV is present?
Does TDV hinder a successful transition out of the Interpersonal stage?
If so, when does TDV pose the most developmental risk?
How does relationship initiation differ in healthy and unhealthy adolescent
romantic relationships? How does this compare to adult
romantic relationships in the context of domestic violence?
(continued on next page)
D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188 181
Table 2 (continued)
Theory Key tenet(s) Empirical findings Questions
Self-silencing is also associated with poorer communication, perceptions
of giving in and to the partner’s feelings of frustration among
males and females, and to lower relationship satisfaction among
females (Harper & Welsh, 2007)
What is the process by which interpersonal embeddedness potentially
affects the choice to leave a violent or aggressive adolescent
romantic relationship?
Do conflicts between multiple shared realities partially explain adolescents’
reluctance to engage in proactive bystanding behaviors?
Furman
and
Wehner
(1994)
Relationship
views
Secure views are related to positive interactions, while insecure
views are related to negative interactions, in adolescent romantic
relationships (Furman & Simon, 2006), with differences by gender
o Insecurity with a romantic partner may be most strongly associated
with a preoccupied relationship view (Doyle et al., 2009)
Adolescents with insecure attachment views prefer friends (or if
available, romantic partners) as primary support figures, compared
to adolescents with secure views, who are more likely to prefer their
mother (Freeman & Brown, 2001)
What is the process by which insecure views serve as risk factors for
(or conversely, secure views serve as protective factors against) TDV
victimization? Is this related to off-time use of an adolescent romantic
partner as an attachment figure (e.g., earlier than in normative
development)?
How does a violent or aggressive first dating experience influence
relationship views across behavioral systems? Is any negative impact
potentially buffered by positive experiences with parents and/or
peers?
Are changing relationship views part of the TDV-adverse outcome
pathway?
How can healthy relationship programs promote secure relationship
views among insecure adolescents?
182 D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188
negotiation role plays, in order to boost student self-efficacy and skills in a less comfortable interpersonal
setting with an age-mate (who may or may not be familiar to the adolescent). Individuals who
participated in the program showed greater negotiation skills than control participants during a peer
role play activity (Wolfe, Crooks, Chiodo, Hughes, & Ellis, 2012), but this method has not been assessed
to see if it boosts conflict negotiation ability with romantic partners, or if it improves negotiation ability
over programs using verbal role plays alone. Context-specific regression seems especially important
to consider as TDV prevention programs often work on improving conflict negotiation;
however, without a developmental perspective, the intervention may not be successful or appropriate.
Other considerations include how deficits and differences beyond age and gender may affect interpersonal
functioning in normative and non-normative romantic relationships (e.g., differences in stress
reactivity and personality), and how this information can be translated into improved prevention
programming.
The concept of interpersonal embeddedness, and how this is used to construct an individual’s reality,
seems directly applicable to the dating violence literature, and yet Kegan’s (1980) theory does not
appear widely used as a guide for empirical work on adolescent development. Of all reviewed theories,
questions derived from Kegan’s theory seem best addressed using qualitative methodology, such as
examining how reality is constructed when dating violence is present, how TDV potentially hinders
a successful transition out of the Interpersonal stage, and when victimization might pose the most
developmental risk (and for whom). Other areas for research from the narrative realm include stories
of relationship initiation (Custer, Holmberg, Blair, & Orbuch, 2008), and how this varies in healthy and
unhealthy adolescent romantic relationships, including differences and similarities with adult relationships
in the context of domestic violence, as well as the potential to use narrative to ‘‘re-story’’
the lives of at-risk youth (Matsuba, Elder, Petrucci, & Reimer, 2010). This research should also explicitly
consider differences by gender, since females may be more likely to preserve interpersonal
embeddedness in their self-definition (Cross & Madson, 1997).
Interpersonal embeddedness, for example through self-silencing, might also contribute to risk for
continued victimization; the role of embeddedness in the choice to leave a violent or aggressive relationship
should also be considered, including as part of guidance for adults working with adolescent
victims. The peer dependence discussed by Kegan and others is also of interest in regards to how it
may facilitate or hinder help-seeking (e.g., may prevent leaving if leaving could result in loss of peer
relationships). A better understanding of conflicts between shared realities, as discussed by Kegan
(1980), might also offer novel explanations for adolescents’ hesitation to engage in bystanding behaviors
(Weisz & Black, 2008), as well as approaches to improve their willingness to intervene.
Relationship views also provide fertile ground for TDV research. Using data from a longitudinal
study in the southern United States (n = 93, mean age Time 1 = 14.28), Miga, Hare, Allen, and
Manning (2010) found that individuals with a dismissing attachment model were more likely to experience
verbal TDV victimization at four year follow-up, a finding that differs from what might have
been anticipated based on data reported in the Empirical section, regarding associations between preoccupied
views and romantic relationship insecurities. Though the Miga et al. (2010) study did not
explore the pathway by which a dismissing model served as a risk factor for victimization, the authors
report that having a partner with an anxious attachment style concurrently predicted own verbal and
physical victimization, and so the influence of an individual’s relationship views on partner selection
may be implicated. An important direction for future research is thus the exploration of the multiple
potential trajectories between insecure views and victimization. Future research can also consider
how a violent or aggressive first dating experience influences relationship views across behavioral systems
(and when an aggressive relationship might have the most developmental impact on these
views), how this impact is potentially buffered by positive experiences with parents and/or peers,
and if risk for dating violence is related to the off-time use of an adolescent romantic partner as an
attachment figure (e.g., earlier than in normative development).
Research by A. L. Miller, Notaro, and Zimmerman (2002) also suggests that relationship views may
be implicated in adverse outcomes. In their study, they found that urban, African–American adolescents
(n = 539) reporting negative peer influence (e.g., peer alcohol use) were more likely to report insecure
or changing (secure to insecure) peer attachment styles, and that youth in these two groups were
also more likely to report a number of adverse outcomes (e.g., depression), compared to individuals
D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188 183
who reported a constant secure peer style over a one-year period (grade 11–grade 12). Thus, for older
adolescents, it is possible that the relationship between TDV and adverse outcomes is mediated by
changing romantic attachment style. Because of the importance of relationship views and their ability
to affect adolescents’ relationship expectations, Draucker, Martsolf, et al. (2012) also recommend that
clinicians assess the relationship views of adolescents who are experiencing or at-risk for dating violence
(p. 155), and so researchers could include questions on these views in TDV screening tools and
screening research. Prevention research can also consider how to promote secure romantic relationship
views amongst insecure adolescents.
Finally, given the theoretical overlap discussed in the first section of this paper, it is important to
note that while we discuss questions for each tenet separately, rich information on the epidemiology
of TDV victimization may also be obtained by using these theoretical tenets in concert. Past empirical
work with adolescents has examined associations between relationship views and intimacy
(Bauminger, Finzi-Dottan, Chason, & Har-Even, 2008), relationships views and interpersonal identity
exploration (Pittman, Kerpelman, Soto, & Adler-Baeder, 2012), intimacy and interpersonal negotiation
(Buhrmester, 1990) and anxiety and interpersonal identity (Crocetti, Klimstra, Keijsers, Hale, & Meeus,
2009), and TDV research will likely also benefit from designs generated by integrating key tenets of
multiple theories.
Limitations
Several limitations of this review should be noted. First, as described in the introduction, this paper
should not be considered a comprehensive overview of all theories of adolescent development that
may be useful when studying TDV, or of all empirical work that uses key theoretical tenets. Rather,
this paper is a selective review of theories that, in the view of the author, would be most useful to
researchers studying TDV, and of empirical work that best supported the theoretical tenets that
seemed fruitful for future research on dating violence. However, there are a number of other theories
that consider adolescent development (e.g., Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, Kohlberg’s theory
of moral development), and while they could not all be covered in this review, researchers studying
particular aspects of dating violence may find them relevant; indeed, the purpose of the present
article was to encourage a theoretical perspective for dating violence research, and so future discourse
on other theories that are beneficial to the study of this topic is encouraged. A complete explication of
each theory was also not presented, in order to keep the paper focused on the stated purpose. Thus,
researchers interested in a particular theory are encouraged to reference the original source(s) provided
in the Selected Theories section. Finally, while these theories may pertain to TDV perpetration
as well, this was not the focus of the article, and so was not discussed in detail here.
Conclusions
This article presented theories of adolescent psychosocial development that may be useful to
researchers thinking about TDV victimization, with the purpose that these theories might guide
new directions in research inquiry, result in products that were situated within the broader field of
adolescent development, and provide a more nuanced understanding of the origins, course and significance
of dating violence: a more nuanced understanding will improve our ability to engage in primary
and secondary prevention of victimization. Despite the importance of these theories for
understanding psychosocial development, the present review found limited empirical research that
used their ideas to understand adolescent romantic relationships. TDV researchers can contribute to
this body of work by investigating how these theories apply to adolescent development in non-normative
romantic relationships, and simultaneously contribute to the fields of adolescent and lifespan
development (e.g., by a focus on timing, risk and protective pathways, and potential comparisons
between normative and non-normative romantic relationship development in adolescence; Rutter,
1989), as well as to testing of the chosen theory/ies. While these theories are often complementary,
each has a different emphasis that may be of interest for a particular question; when considering these
questions, the roles of gender and age are also important to consider. Work in more diverse samples
184 D. Exner-Cortens / Developmental Review 34 (2014) 168–188
and in non-heterosexual romantic relationships is also needed. Determining how to prevent victimization
of youth is an important issue for the field of adolescent development, and using adolescentfocused
theories to guide detailed work on dating violence is encouraged.
Acknowledgments
The author wishes to thank Dawn Schrader, John Eckenrode, Daphna Ram and Emily Rothman for
their assistance in the conceptualization and preparation of this manuscript. The feedback of the anonymous
reviewers was also invaluable. This research was supported in part by a Doctoral Foreign Study
Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The funding source had no involvement in the
study design, collection, analysis and interpretation of data, writing of the report, or decision to submit
the article for publication.
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