Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Relationship of Family Environment to Adolescents' Depression and Self - Concept

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Relationship of Family Environment to Adolescents' Depression and Self - Concept

Article excerpt

The study aimed at examining the relationships among family environment, depression and self-concept of adolescents in Hong Kong. A multi-domain perspective was adopted. The study involved a total of 2706 adolescents. Subjects were group administered a questionnaire containing the multi-domain Family Environment Scale (Moos & Moos, 1981), the multi dimensional depression scale - Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (Reynolds, 1987) and the Multi-domain Multi-Perspective Self-Concept Inventory (Cheung & Lau, 1996). Results showed that all the three domains of family environment (relationship, personal growth, and system maintenance) correlated significantly with the three depression aspects (emotionality, lack of positive experience, and physiological irritation). The relationship domain of FES appeared to correlate more strongly than the other two domains with the depression aspects. The FES domains also correlated strongly and positively with the four domains of self-concept: academic, appearance, social, and general. Both the relationship domain and system maintenance domain correlated more strongly than the personal growth domain with the self-concept domains. Regression analyses showed that family relationship was most predictive of various aspects of depression and self-concept. Sex difference was found in the prediction of both boys' and girls' depression and self-concept. With boys, system maintenance was predictive only of self-concept. With girls, personal growth was predictive of depression, and personal growth and system maintenance were predictive of self-concept. Analysis of variance showed that students high on family relationship, personal growth, and system maintenance were low in different depression aspects, but high in various self-concept domains. It was concluded that a cohesive, orderly, and achieving family environment is conducive to more positive development in adolescents, in terms of lower depression and higher self-concept.

How can we come to know more about adolescents' psychological development? One possible way of doing so is to study the social environments of adolescents. According to the ecological and social systems approach, the family and school are especially important socialization institutions (Bronfenbrenner, 1989; Hess & Holloway, 1984; Moos, 1976; Sameroff, 1983). In the present study, the focus would be on the family environment, and how it would relate to Chinese adolescents' state of depression and self-concept.

Moos (1976), in his theory of social ecology, has identified three aspects or domains of a social environment: relationship, personal growth and development, and system maintenance and change. Many studies have supported the presence of these three broad domains in a variety of settings (including hospitals). Moos has constructed the Family Environment Scale (FES) to tap these domains (Moos & Moos, 1981). Research has shown that Moos' classification is useful in the understanding of human behaviors and personality in various social environments (e.g., Cheung&Lau, 1985;Forman&Forman, 1981; Moos, 1974,1976,1979; Moos & Moos, 1976; Trickett, 1978).

During, adolescents' development, depression and self-concept are two major indices of psychological development (Steinberg, 1990). Poor psychological adjustment has been shown to relate closely to depression (Herman & Jobes, 1991; Kovacs, 1985) and negative self-concept or self - esteem. In recent research, the measures of depression and self-concept are multi-dimensional in nature. For the present study, the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale (RADS; Reynolds, 1987) and the Multi-Domain Multi-Perspective Serf-concept Inventory (MMSI; Cheung & Lau, 1996) would be used. In the RADS, apart from the overall scale, three subscales were identified in a recent study on Chinese adolescents to include emotionality, lack of positive experience, and physiological irritation (Lau, Chen, Chen, Li & Siu, 1996). …

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