Parejas y redes de iguales en la adolescencia: naturaleza, factores explicativos y propuestas de intervención psicoeducativa

  1. Noelia Muñoz Fernández
Supervised by:
  1. Virginia Sánchez Jiménez Director

Defence university: Universidad de Sevilla

Fecha de defensa: 08 February 2019

Committee:
  1. Alfredo Oliva Delgado Chair
  2. J. A. Mora-Merchán Secretary
  3. Paz Elipe Muñoz Committee member
  4. Manuel Gámez Guadix Committee member
  5. Benedetta Emanuela Palladino Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 579016 DIALNET lock_openIdus editor

Abstract

This thesis addresses the onset and maintenance of erotic–romantic relationships during the adolescent years. This developmental task is considered the hallmark of adolescence (Collin, 2003; Collins, Welsh, & Furman, 2009) given that it contributes to the development of important skills and abilities, including the recognition of one’s own and others’ sexual desire (Ortega-Rivera, Sánchez-Jiménez, & Ortega-Ruiz, 2010); managing one’s sex drive (Crockett, Raffaelli, & Moilanen, 2003); the adjusted expression of sexual interest via dating practices (Manning, Giordano, & Longmore, 2006; Tuval-Mashiach, Walsh, Harel & Shulman, 2008; Ortega-Rivera et al., 2010); and establishing positive sexual interactions and couple relationships free from violence and coercion (Diamond, Bonner, & Dickenson, 2015; Pepler, 2012). Scientific analysis of this developmental task has revealed two main challenges in current research. First, there is a need for further conceptual and theoretical development of the role that the Internet and new technologies play in adolescent erotic–romantic relationships (Runions, 2013). From this perspective, we know that the online world can be considered a development context in which risks and opportunities come together (Livingstone, 2003; Livingstone & Bober, 2004), particularly in terms of adolescent social relationships, considering that new technologies are primarily used by young people to communicate with others, especially with friends and their respective partners (Fox & Warber, 2012; Subrahmanyam, Smahel, & Greenfield, 2006; Subrahmanyam & Smahel, 2011b; van Ouytsel, van Gool, Walrave, Ponnet, & Peeters, 2016). Specifically, the research question that currently guides most available studies revolves around discovering whether the risks and opportunities that peer and couple social relationships present for adolescent development are the same on- and off-screen; and, in contrast, whether the specificity of the online context contributes to reinterpreting these risks and opportunities. This thesis has a wofold approach to moving this debate forward. The first approach is through designing and validating instruments to assess some of these risks and opportunities; for example, peer sexual cybervictimization (study one) and online dating relationship quality (study two). The second approach is via a longitudinal study in which the nature of cyber-aggression in adolescent romantic relationships is analyzed (study three). The second challenge facing scientific research is the development and evaluation of psychoeducational interventions that promote healthy romantic relationships on- and off-screen and which prevent abusive behavior engagement in both contexts. Three overriding reasons warrant this challenge. First, there are no programs in Europe – and in Spain specifically – that have been developed with methodological rigor using randomized control trials whose design and procedure allow us to reliably test their efficacy (Leen et al., 2013). Second, it is necessary to ensure that developed interventions are truly effective at preventing abusive behaviors in romantic relationships. To date, the available programs appear to demonstrate consistency in modifying violence-related beliefs, knowledge and attitudes; however, few interventions have analyzed their impact on mitigating violent behavior and whose results have been positive (De la Rue et al., 2014; Fellmeth et al., 2014; Martínez-Gómez & Rey-Anacona, 2014; O’Leary & Slep, 2012). Third, programs that address and evaluate new forms of violence in adolescent dating couples via new technologies have been limited. We are aware of only two interventions that have tested their efficacy in reducing online violence of this kind (Foshee et al., 2015; Miller et al., 2015), delivering promising results. Based on these results, the present thesis seeks to contribute to the state of the art in teen dating violence prevention through the development, implementation and assessment of a prevention program (study four). This thesis adopts the format of a compendium of publications. Three of the four presented studies have been published in international JCR-indexed, impact factor journals (studies one, two and four) and the remaining one (study three) has been accepted for publication subject to changes in a JCR-indexed journal. The list of publications submitted for obtaining the PhD degree, together with all other publications related to this thesis, are detailed in the Report on the Scientific elevance of Publications section. The structure of this research report begins with a review of the literature, in which the importance of peer and romantic relationships in adolescence is analyzed, as well as the impact of new technologies in these relational contexts. The risks and opportunities that the online context opens up in teen relational life are specifically detailed, focusing our attention on the abusive and violent behaviors which may arise. The final chapter of the literature review describes the state of the art in dating violence prevention programs. The two main aims that guide this research project are subsequently described: namely, an analysis of the risks and opportunities underlying peer and romantic relationships in the online context; and the development, implementation and assessment of a violence prevention program corresponding to adolescent romantic relationships. The methodological design of studies one and two was cross-sectional in nature, whereas studies three and four adopted a two-wave, longitudinal approach. In studies one and two, purposive sampling on the basis of accessibility was used, whereas random sampling was conducted in studies three and four, with schools assigned as the unit of randomization. Participants across all studies were high-school (ESO) students at state schools in Seville and Córdoba (southern Spain). In study one, 601 adolescents aged between 12 and 16 years participated. Study two comprised two studies: one qualitative and the other quantitative. The qualitative study involved 16 adolescents aged between 14 and 17 years, whereas 626 adolescents participated in the quantitative study. In study three, 1,003 adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years took part. Finally, 1,764 adolescents aged between 11 and 19 years participated in study four. Self-report measures were used, except in study two which took a focus group approach. Content analysis, bivariate analysis (descriptive, means comparison-based and correlational), exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, latent change score and structural equation modeling were performed. Studies one and two have made advances in measuring two phenomena: peer sexual cybervictimization and online quality of adolescent romantic relationships. Two valid and reliable instruments were proposed: Peer Sexual Cybervictimization and Cyberdating Q-A. The first is an online adaptation of one of the most widely used international tools for measuring peer sexual harassment (Sexual Harassment Survey; AUWW, 2001), and which has identified a macro dimension that encompasses two forms of online sexual victimization: the personal and the ambiguous. The instrument has proven invariant by sex, which is considered a strength, thus allowing for male and female comparisons to be made. The second instrument is an inclusive proposal of online quality, which includes the positive and negative uses of new technologies in the couple dynamic. Furthermore, it represents the first available instrument for evaluating these behaviors in adolescents, and especially in Spain. Both measures assess highly visible aspects of young people’s lives. In the case of sexual cybervictimization, it has been observed that approximately two out of every ten adolescents has received sexual images or comments, insults, or unwanted sexual solicitations by peers. As for online quality, figures emphasize the importance of the online context in the romantic lives of young people, with prevalence rates surpassing 75% for online intimacy, online jealousy, online control, emotional communication strategies, online intrusiveness, and cyberdating practices. For its part, study three enabled us to reflect on the nature of cyber-aggression in adolescent couples by analyzing the common and differential predictor factors of online aggression and psychological aggression. This study sought to contribute to the debate on whether online aggression can be considered a subtype of psychological aggression and, in contrast, whether it is a phenomenon with unique characteristics as a consequence of the context in which it occurs. The results showed that both forms of aggression can be explained by anger regulation problems, the presence of negative couple relationship quality, and by jealousy. However, other factors were found to be specific to each form of aggression; for example, cognitive empathy and the acceptance of violence. Lastly, study four has made advances in preventing violence in adolescent romantic relationships. The Dat-e Adolescence program has delivered promising results, successfully modifying important risk factors for violence such as myths of love, anger regulation, and self-esteem. However, the results have also reflected how involvement in violent behaviors and relationship quality did not change during this first program evaluation stage. In conclusion, the present work has contributed to two current challenges facing research into adolescent erotic–romantic relationships. On the one hand, to understand the role and nature of the online context in some behaviors that play out in adolescent life and which entail significant consequences for youth development and well-being. And on the other hand, to further develop psychoeducational intervention proposals that promote healthy romantic relationships, thus preventing the onset of abusive behaviors. jealousy, online control, emotional communication trategies, online intrusiveness, and cyberdating practices. For its part, study three enabled us to reflect on the nature of cyber-aggression in adolescent couples by analyzing the common and differential predictor factors of online aggression and psychological aggression. This study sought to contribute to the debate on whether online aggression can be considered a subtype of psychological aggression and, in contrast, whether it is a phenomenon with unique characteristics as a consequence of the context in which it occurs. The results showed that both forms of aggression can be explained by anger regulation problems, the presence of negative couple relationship quality, and by jealousy. However, other factors were found to be specific to each form of aggression; for example, cognitive empathy and the acceptance of violence. Lastly, study four has made advances in preventing violence in adolescent romantic relationships. The Dat-e Adolescence program has delivered promising results, successfully modifying important risk factors for violence such as myths of love, anger regulation, and self-esteem. However, the results have also reflected how involvement in violent behaviors and relationship quality did not change during this first program evaluation stage. In conclusion, the present work has contributed to two current challenges facing research into adolescent erotic–romantic relationships. On the one hand, to understand the role and nature of the online context in some behaviors that play out in adolescent life and which entail significant consequences for youth development and well-being. And on the other hand, to further develop psychoeducational intervention proposals that promote healthy romantic relationships, thus preventing the onset of abusive behaviors.