Young adults' self- and parent-reported internalizing and externalizing behaviors: Unique contributions of perceived family environment, social support and competence
This study explored the relationship among perceived family environment, social support from different sources, self-competence, and internalizing/externalizing problem behaviors in freshmen college students. Previous studies have shown that family environment, social support, and competence all relate to adjustment and behaviors in clinical and non-clinical populations. The purpose of the current study is to integrate the aforementioned variables in order to determine how they contribute both jointly and independently to the prediction of self- and parent-reported of college students' intemalizing and extemalizing behaviors. A series of questionnaires was administered to freshmen college students (N=311) at a southwestem university who recently left their families-of-origin and entered college life. A demographic questionnaire and six different self-report scales were used to obtain relevant background information and their perceived competencies in specific domains, perceived family cohesion, adaptability, satisfaction, perceived emotional support from mother, father, sibling, close friend, peers, instmctors, campus organizations, and their self-reports of intemalizing and extemalizing behavioral ftinctioning. A second standardized scale that tapped the same college students' behaviors was completed by one of their parents (N=213). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to identify potential contributions of the aforementioned variables in the prediction of self and parent reports of intemalizing and extemalizing behaviors. Correlational analyses with stringent p-values were performed to supplement the findings among those variables. Results from regression analyses indicated that college students' self-report intemalizing behaviors could be accounted for significantly by perceived competence and perceived peer support. Their self-report extemalizing behaviors could be significantly and uniquely accounted for by perceived family satisfaction. Overall, females' perceived family environment, social support and competence accounted for more percentage of variance in predicting self-reported outcome behaviors, whereas, males' perceived family environment, social support, and competence accounted for significantly more percentage of variance in predicting parent-reported outcome behaviors. Perceived competence appears to relate more to males' outcome behaviors than females. Correlational analyses suggested that more family environment and social support variables are related to females' self-report intemalizing and extemalizing behaviors. These findings enhance our understanding of freshmens' behavioral problems with regard to individual, family and social factors. It is suggested that the etiology and treatment of young adults' problem behaviors should be considered by separate gender.