Emerging adulthood is a life period characterized by new explorations in different areas such as love, work and worldviews. It is also identified by reduced behavioral and emotional dependencies on one’s parents and by an individual’s postponement of taking over full adult responsibilities. In this period emerging adults still deal with the individuation issues, such as developing personal autonomy while maintaining connectedness to parents.
When the previous studies are examined, it can be seen that individuation in emerging adulthood has mostly been investigated in western societies; however, recent relational, social, economic, and demographic changes in Turkey demonstrate the need to extend the research on autonomy issues to other societies with more traditional cultural backgrounds. Therefore, fisrtly, we decided to conduct a Turkish validation of the Individuation Test for Emerging Adults-Short Form (ITEA-S) in the first part of the study. Secondly, we investigated the relationship between Turkish emerging adults’ individuation in relation to parents and characteristics of their attachment in a romantic relationship.
In this study, we gathered data from two independent samples. The first sample consisted of 510 participants (Mage=22.3, SD=2.7), and the second sample consisted of 246 (Mage=21.1, SD=1.9) participants. The first sample filled in a personal information form and mother and father forms of ITEA-S while the second sample responded to a personal information form and the both forms of ITEA-S and The Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R).
Our findings showed that the fit of the 5-factor model to the data was satisfactory for both forms of the ITEA-S. Besides, high standardized loadings ranging from .53 to .89 (MITEA-S-M=.73, MITEA-S-F=.76) indicated good construct validity of the Turkish version of the ITEA-S. The five ITEA-S scales (Support Seeking, Connectedness, Intrusiveness, Self-Reliance, Fear of Disappointing the Parent) also had satisfactory internal consistency with Cronbach a coefficients ranging from .74 to .92.
The results of the second part of the study showed that the regression models had higher predictive value for the attachment anxiety than the attachment avoidance. Younger participants experienced more attachment anxiety in their romantic relationships, while females reported more attachement avoidance than males in their romantic relationships. On the other hand, there were some differences in contributions of specific individuation dimensions in relation to mother and father to prediction of attachment dimensions. The results specified that connectedness with mother and self-reliance in relation to both parents were negatively associated with attachment avoidance. Also, higher perceived maternal intrusiveness, lower connectedness with father and higher fear of disappointing both parents were related to higher attachment anxiety in romantic relationships.
Both mother and father forms of the ITEA-S are appropriate instruments for measuring the individuation patterns of Turkish emerging adults. Also, the study demonstrated that healthy individuation dimensions (connectedness and self-reliance) mostly linked with lower attachment avoidance in romantic relationships, while negative aspects of individuation (intrusiveness and fear of disappointing the parent) associated with higher attachment anxiety in romantic relationships.