Date of Award
Interparental conflict, friendship quality, social support, college students
Most children are exposed to some form of interparental conflict; when the interparental conflict is elevated and unresolved, and the children's exposure to conflict is high and sustained over time, there are a variety of negative consequences (deficits in romantic relationships, lower social support, and psychological distress). My study expands connections established in the literature by focusing on how perceptions of interparental conflict relates to friendship quality and perceived levels of social support. 114 college undergraduate students completed an online questionnaire about their childhood perceptions of conflict between their parents, and their relationship with their best friends currently. They also responded to questions about their perceived levels of social support from both family and larger network of friends. Based on previous studies, I hypothesized that college students who reported higher exposure to interparental conflict would report more negative features within their friendships, and this hypothesis was supported. As predicted, poor conflict resolution and high conflict frequency between parents were both predictive of more negative features in college students' friendships. Further, students who had been exposed to more interparental conflict as children reported receiving less social support from family members. Students who reported lower levels of social support also experienced more negative features in their friendships. Overall, this study suggests that children's exposure to unresolved interparental conflict extends to college years and beyond romantic relationships into friendship dynamics. Future work should investigate the possible mediating effects of therapy for children exposed to high levels of interparental conflict.
McDonald, Lindsey Clare, "Childhood Perceptions of Interparental Conflict Predicts College Students' Friendship Quality and Social Support" (2023). Honors Theses. 2725.