Independence /interdependence, social anxiety, and adjustment to college: A longitudinal analysis
Many theorists emphasize that successful late-adolescent development requires a person to become more independent and self-reliant, while at the same time gaining increasing recognition of the importance of relationships and obligations to others. To date, studies that have examined the role of independent and interdependent self-construals on college adjustment have used cross-sectional data, have inferred self-construals, or have used a narrow definition of adjustment. Moreover, little previous research has considered the effect on college adjustment of the interaction between the two self-construals. The goal of the present study was thus to provide a longitudinal analysis of the relationship between independence, interdependence, and overall adjustment, as well as to explore interactions between the self-construals. The study was conducted over the course of an academic year. Participants were 343 college freshmen who completed demographic, self-construal, and social anxiety questionnaires prior to the start of classes, in addition to measures of overall well-being and high school adjustment. At the end of the first semester and at the end of the year, participants completed self-construal and well-being measures again, along with scales assessing college affiliation, college adaptation, and activities. High school GPA, SAT scores, and course grades were gathered from academic records. Interdependence was shown to predict better adjustment to academic life, university commitment, and participation in school activities, while independence predicted higher self-esteem and social adjustment. Self-esteem was found to mediate the relationship between independence and well-being. Interdependence was shown to attenuate the negative relationship between social adjustment and well-being. While neither self-construal alone predicted academic performance, the interaction was significant, such that independence predicted higher GPA when interdependence was low. Median splits on the self-construal scales revealed that students who were above the median on both characteristics were better adjusted than those who were below the median on one or both scales. Finally, gains in self-construals over the course of the year predicted better college adjustment. These findings are important conceptually to developmental theorists. Moreover, they have clinical relevance to university counseling centers and offices of student life, in terms of decreasing attrition and facilitating students' transition to college.
0620: Developmental psychology