Intervention Effects on Adolescents’ Perception of Parent Relationship Quality


  • Jillian Attinelly, Psychology, University of Delaware

Faculty Mentor(s)

  • Mary Dozier, Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware


Children’s attachment security to parents promotes psychosocial skills and other positive outcomes among adolescents. Infants who experience insensitive, neglectful and frightening parenting become at risk for developing disorganized and insecure attachments. Early interventions such as Attachment Biobehavioral Catch-up (ABC), promote sensitivity and decrease intrusiveness, enhancing childhood outcomes. The purpose of this study was to understand how adolescents of high- risk populations conceptualize their relationships with their caregiver. In infancy, parent-child dyads were randomized to receive ABC or the control intervention, Developmental Education for Families (DEF). During middle childhood, a low-risk comparison group was added. A sample of 111 parent-child dyads were included to assess intervention effects on these adolescent’s’ perceptions of relationship quality with their biological/adopted mothers, using the Network of Relationships Inventory- Relationships Quality Version (NRI-RQV). A nonparametric ANCOVA was run to analyze the effects on the mean positive and negative characteristics as well as their sub-scales. Results showed that adolescents who received ABC in infancy had more positive perceptions of their parents compared to adolescents who received DEF. Significant differences between ABC and DEF children emerged for the approval sub-scale, F(108)=10.51, P= 0.005, while the companionship sub-scale F(108)=5.43, P= 0.066. and closeness mean scale F(108)= 5.35, P= 0.069 were marginally significant. Negative characteristics showed no significant differences. Intervening early in high- risk populations can allow adolescents to catch up with their peers on relationship quality with their parents. This finding is relevant in understanding the long- term effects of early interventions, specifically in adolescent outcomes. Future research could look even farther into friend relationships as adolescence is a time when friendship relationships become stronger.