Family functioning and self monitoring in late adolescence
Self-monitoring is an impression management construct which involves the degree to which one has the ability and willingness to alter self-presentation in social situations, using contextual cues (vs. internal determinants such as personality traits, social attitudes, and values) as the principal guide for choosing from a behavioral response repertoire. The high self-monitor, by attending to contextual cues, is thought to be able to obtain the best possible social advantage in order to achieve sociopersonal goals. Ability to achieve these goals has been postulated to define social competence.
In addition, through a variety of theoretical perspectives in developmental and socialization research, social competence and its components have been related to family functioning--particularly to the dimensions of integration and differentiation. Family integration refers to a family's provision of a close, supportive, cohesive social environment for its members. Family differentiation refers to a family's acceptance and encouragement of autonomous thought and behavior in its members.
This investigation focused on (a) the relationship of selfmonitoring to social competence and (b) the relationship of family functioning dimensions (integration and differentiation) to both social competence and self-monitoring. A sample of 432 Anglo, predominantly middle-class freshmen at two southwestern universities participated in a two-stage study assessing social competence, self-monitoring, and family functioning. Self-monitoring was correlated with social competence positively, as predicted, but that relationship was moderate, with self-monitoring explaining only a small portion of the variance in social competence scores. Patterns of family functioning were also found to relate differently for self-monitoring and social competence, suggesting that different socialization factors are important for the development of each. This notion is further supported by the patterns of gender differences found for self-monitoring and social competence.
Most social competence measures focus on instrumental (goal-oriented) competence, whereas self-monitoring involves expressive competence. These data were interpreted in terms of the theoretical position that self-monitoring may be reflecting both high instrumental and high expressive social competence. The different gender findings are explained in terms of differential instrumental and expressive role socialization for males and females.