This project intends to analyze the impact of the marital relationship on adult children using psychosocial and physiological measures.
200 young adults composed the sample that was made of undergraduate students at the University of Minho from several fields of study.
The variables accessed include the Portuguese Versions of: the Separation-Individuation Process Inventory (Christenson & Wilson, 1985); the Miller Social Intimacy Scale (Miller & Lefcourt, 1982); the Perceived Social Support (Procidano & Heller, 1983); the Conflict Tactics Scale (Strauss & Gelles, 1990); the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (Coyne, Aldwin & Lazarus, 1981); the Beck Depression Inventory (1973); the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Spielberger et al.); The Rotterdam Symptom Check List (Haes et al., 1990); and the Perception of Parental Relationship by their Adult Children (Pereira & Araújo-Soares, 2002). The physiological measures included heart rate, blood pressure and skin conductance. Subjects had to fulfill a physiological protocol that included watching a movie that elicited positive emotions and one that elicited negative ones.
They were assessed at several times: baseline, after each movie, relaxation and while talking about the experience.
Young adults from problematic families (conflictual parental relationship) had lower social support and higher symptomatology. We also found significant differences in all physiological measures: blood pressure, skin conductance, heart rate dealing with negative emotions. As expected, we also found significant correlations between coping, social support, self-differentiation and intimacy on one hand, and between psychological morbidity, symptomatology, aggression and parental relationship on the other.
The results emphasize the impact of the marital relationship on the developmental process of grown up kids with implications on their physical and mental health. The group with poorer perception of parental relationship has higher arousal when confronted with negative emotions. The need for psychological intervention to minor the intergenerational risk of parental relational problems on these young adults is emphasized.