Emotional tone in young adolescents' close relationships and its association with deliberate self-harm

Lars-Gunnar Lundh, Margit Wångby-Lundh, Jenny Ulander
2009 Interpersona : An International Journal on Personal Relationships  
Previous research has shown that a less positive emotional tone in adolescents' relationships to parents, but not in their relationships to peers, predicts more of behaviour problems and substance use. The purpose of the present study was to replicate these findings, and to extend this research to deliberate self-harm. In a first study with a variable-oriented approach, correlations were analysed between emotional tone in close relationships and a number of behaviour problems. The main results
more » ... howed that deliberate self-harm among girls, as well as conduct problems, hyperactivity, aggressive behaviour, and the use of alcohol, were more strongly associated with poor emotional relations to their parents than with poor emotional relations to friends. In a second study, a person-oriented approach was used to investigate girls' profiles of emotional tone in close relationships by means of cluster analysis, and to compare the clusters on measures of deliberate self-harm. The analysis led to the identification of five clusters; of these, deliberate self-harm was most frequent in a cluster of girls who reported poor emotional relations to parents in combination with good emotional relations to friends. Self-harm was also frequent in a cluster of girls characterized by poor emotional relations to both parents and friends. The results are discussed in terms of good emotional relations to friends not necessarily serving as a protective factor against emotional and behavioural problems, and the methodological value of a person-oriented approach as a complement to a traditional variable-oriented approach. Much evidence indicates that the quality of people's close relationships (parents, friends, romantic partners, etc.) is significantly associated with their health and well-being (e.g., Berscheid & Reis, 1998; Ryff, 1995) . The nature of an individual's close relationships, however, changes during the life course. Whereas parents are primary sources of intimacy and support in childhood,
doi:10.5964/ijpr.v3isupp1.71 fatcat:cn5uqz7wczhmxa3gmn5cmtovsu