Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Individual and Relational Role Balance Scale (IRRBS): A Preliminary Scale Development and Validation Study

Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Individual and Relational Role Balance Scale (IRRBS): A Preliminary Scale Development and Validation Study

Article excerpt

During emerging adulthood, young people begin the process of balancing individual and relational role commitments. Whereas development within specific domains, primarily career and relationship (work and love), have been explored separately, it is important to understand how emerging adults divide their attention across multiple individual (i.e., education, employment, athletics, organizational membership) and relational (i.e., friendship, family relationship, romantic partnership) domains during this period and how perceived balance impacts psychosocial functioning. This study reports on the preliminary scale validation of the Individual and Relational Role Balance Scale (IRRBS) using a college student sample (N = 299). This scale re-conceptualizes the work-family balance dichotomy appropriate to adulthood as role balance between the multiple and often fluid individual and relational roles emerging adults inhabit. The full IRRBS, and three subscales, were reliable at a > .80 and no group differences in IRRBS scores were found on the basis of age, gender, racial/ethnic background, relationship status, or employment status. Construct validity was achieved with significant correlations in the directions hypothesized between individual and relational role balance and the related constructs of life satisfaction, well-being, anxiety, depression, and overall psychological distress. Implications for future research and applied applications of the IRRBS are discussed.

Keywords: role balance, emerging adulthood, scale validation

Introduction

During emerging adulthood, young people begin the process of balancing individual and relational role commitments (Shulman & Connolly, 2013). Arnett's (2000) theory of emerging adulthood provides a framework for understanding role exploration and the process of role balance as part of this distinct developmental period. Whereas development within specific domains, primarily career and relationship (work and love), have been explored separately, it is important to understand how emerging adults divide their attention across multiple individual (i.e., education, employment, athletics, organizational membership) and relational (i.e., friendship, family relationship, romantic partnership) domains during this period and how perceived balance impacts psychosocial functioning in terms of life satisfaction, well-being, and mental health (Ranta, Dietrich, & Salmela-Aro, 2014; Schulenberg & Schoon, 2012; Shulman & Connolly, 2013; van Dulmen, Claxton, Collins, & Simpson, 2013).

Although the construct of role balance has been defined and explored across contexts in adulthood, very little is known about role balance during emerging adulthood. Research on role balance and related constructs in adulthood has focused primarily on how adult men and women balance demands placed on them by their careers and families, and to a lesser extent how they balance these demands with leisure activities (Hammer & Demsky, 2014). While this work provides a foundation for understanding the role balance construct, as well as potential antecedents and consequences of balance, extant measures of work-family or work-life balance in adulthood might not be appropriate in emerging adulthood given the variety and transience of role commitments during this developmental period. Therefore, role balance needs to re-conceptualized beyond work and family or work and life to match the complexity of role exploration and development in this period. Furthermore, more appropriate measures need to be developed in order to explore balance in emerging adulthood.

Role Balance Constructs

In developing a measure of balance appropriate to emerging adulthood, the construct of role balance as defined in the adult literature on work-family balance provides a conceptual underpinning. As stated, research to date on role balance has focused almost exclusively on how adult men and women balance career and family demands (Hammer & Demsky, 2014). …

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