Date of Award

8-2002

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Douglas W. Nagle

Second Committee Member

Cynthia A. Erdly

Third Committee Member

Janice Zeman

Abstract

Despite the widespread consensus regarding the importance of other-sex relationships in adolescence, surprisingly little research has addressed the construct of adolescent heterosocial competence. The goal of this series of studies was to construct a measure of adolescent heterosocial competence, and in doing so, further define the construct. Nearly 500 adolescents participated in a series of four studies that followed the five-step method outlined in Goldfiied and D'Zurilla's (1 969) seminal article on assessing competence. The data generated in the first three studies were used to construct a 40-item multiple-choice measure entitled the Measure of Adolescent Heterosocial Competence (MAHC). These studies built upon a previously constructed taxonomy of adolescent-identified problematic heterosocial situations. The initial study in the present series completed the situational analysis step of the model by requiring a sample of adolescents to identify the most critical situations in the taxonomy (i.e., those that are difficult to resolve and occur with some frequency); a process referred to as situational validation. Next, another sample of adolescents generated a range of responses to each relevant situation in the response enumeration step. In Study 3, nine expert judges with extensive experience working with or researching adolescents judged the responses for competence to fulfill the response evaluation phase. The final study began a process of measurement validation representing the evaluation of the measure phase. Item analysis of the MAHC revealed acceptable internal consistency. Using a multitrait-multimethod approach to construct validation, the MAHC was compared to measures of theoretically related (i.e., general social competence, heterosocial anxiety, conflict negotiation in dating relationships, and peer acceptance) and unrelated (i.e., socioeconomic status) constructs. As predicted, the MAHC converged with the measures of general social competence and heterosocial anxiety. No significant relationships were documented between the MAHC and measures of conflict negotiation skill in dating relationships or peer acceptance. Finally, consistent with predictions, the MAHC did not significantly correlate with a measure of socioeconomic status. Analysis of the pattern of relationships in the matrix suggests that the MAHC appears to be assessing a construct related to, but conceptually distinct, from both general social competence and heterosocial anxiety

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