Typologies of family functioning: From identity development to emotional distress in adolescence and emerging adulthood

Ana Prioste, Petra Tavares, Eunice Magalhães

Abstract


The family functioning contributes differently to psychological adjustment, according to the development stages and the tasks that underlie them. Through a quantitative cross-sectional design, and using a sample of 387 participants aged between 15 and 25 years (M=20.06, SD=3.21), this study aimed to: identify the typologies of family functioning, from the cohesion and conflict dimensions; and to analyse the association between the typologies of family functioning, the identity development processes, the developmental stage (adolescence and emerging adulthood) and the emotional distress. Five typologies of family functioning were identified, corresponding to: Cohesive, Disengaged, Balanced, Conflicting and Enmeshed. Taking into account the literature, the participants were divided into groups, according to age (adolescents and emerging adults) and the level of emotional distress (with and without emotional distress). The results show statistically significant associations between the typologies of family functioning, the developmental stage, the processes of identity development and the groups with and without emotional distress. Specifically, the results indicate that emerging adults perceive the functioning of their families as more Cohesive or Enmeshed, compared with the adolescents; and that the group with emotional distress perceived, for the most part, the functioning of their family as Enmeshed. The implications for the practice and the literature in the areas of Developmental Psychopathology and Family Psychology are discussed.

Keywords


Adolescence, Emerging adulthood, Family functioning, Identity development, Emotional distress.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14417/ap.1534

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