Validation of the Adolescent Concerns Measure (ACM): Evidence from Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analysis

Article excerpt

Some early researchers have argued that adolescence is a period of heightened "storm and stress" and that it is universal and inevitable (e.g., Hall, 1904). Anthropologists, led by Margaret Mead (1928), opposed this view by describing non-Western cultures in which adolescence was neither stormy nor stressful. Contemporary researchers have argued for a modified view: evidence supports the existence of some degree of storm and stress but it is important to recognize that there are individual differences among adolescents in the extent to which they exhibit storm and stress and that there are cultural variations in its pervasiveness (Arnett, 1999; Buchanan, Eccles, Flanagan, Midgley, Feldlaufer, & Harold, 1990; Holmbeck & Hill, 1988).

Researchers worldwide have investigated concerns of adolescents. In Western countries such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, peer relationships, family problems, school and education, personal, and other social issues appear to be salient concerns among adolescents (Boehm, Schondel, Marlowe, & Manke-Mitchell, 1999; D'Andrea, Daniels, & Gaughen, 1998; Gillies, 1989; Springer, 1998; Violato & Holden, 1988). For example, Boehm et al. (1999) studied reasons for teens' usage of a peer listening phone service at various sites in the United States. Peer relationships (46% to 60%) and family problems (10% to 20%) were the most frequently discussed issues (Boehm et al., 1999). Other less consistently cited, but relevant adolescent concerns include finance, health, sexuality, drug use, pregnancy, AIDS, and sexually transmitted diseases (e.g., Boehm et al., 1999; Gillies, 1989).

Similar types of adolescent concerns were also reported in Asian countries. For example, Hui (2000, 2001) found seven dimensions of adolescent concerns among Hong Kong students: physical appearance and friendship, psychological well-being, family problems, school-related problems, study concerns and the future, peer relationship problems, and maladjusted behavior. Five areas of concerns were identified in a study of Singapore adolescents which include school, personal/self, peer, recreation, and family issues (Isralowitz & Ong, 1990). While many of these concerns were similar to those found in Western countries, some differences emerged. Given the strong emphasis on education and academic excellence, findings of studies conducted in Asian countries appear to point toward concerns relating to school adjustment, grades, and meeting the expectations of themselves, parents, and teachers to be primary adolescent concerns (Ang & Huan, 2006; Hui, 2000; Isralowitz & Ong, 1990). Furthermore, because of the collectivistic nature of Asian cultures and the emphasis on filial piety, education, and proper behavior, adolescents' school-related concerns are inextricably linked with family and personal concerns (Ang & Huan, 2006; Gloria & Ho, 2003; Yeh & Huang, 1996). Consequently, Asian adolescents' concerns about school will invariably be more closely linked with their personal and family concerns as compared to those of adolescents from Western countries.

For adolescents from the Middle East (e.g., Alzubaidi, Upton, & Baluch, 1998, for Yemen; Friedman, 1991, for Israel), in addition to expressing the typical concerns reviewed for adolescents from Western and Asian countries, they reported concerns with national/army service and existential issues such as politics, economics, religion, and observing tradition. Given the political, religious, cultural, and economic climate of countries in the Middle East, it is not surprising that adolescents from these countries report unique concerns about military and existential issues, in addition to the typical concerns of adolescents already reviewed. Taken together, international research on adolescent concerns suggest that while core concerns remain similar, there is some variation in specific concerns due to difference in culture, belief systems, and unique political or societal features such as threat of war or level of unemployment (Bennett, Klein, & Deverensky, 1992; Porteous, 1985). …