Date of Award

5-1994

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Anne McIntyre

Committee Members

Jo Lynn Cunningham, Richard Saudergas, Lance Laurence

Abstract

It was hypothesized that foster children placed with a sibling would show better psychological adjustment and more embeddedness in the foster family than those foster children without such contacts. Subjects were 41 foster children between the ages of 6 and 12 years. Cognitive maturity, problem behaviors, psychological maturity, dependency, wariness, curiosity, and attention seeking were aspects of psychological adjustment. These were measured on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised, Child Behavior Checklist, Tasks of Emotional Development Test, Marble-in-the-Hole Game, and Picture Game. Embeddedness in the foster family was measured with a family sculpting technique. Family Boundary Ambiguity was measured with a questionnaire based on the research of Boss and Greenberg (1984).

Foster children place with a natural sibling exhibited more curiosity, a healthy developmental trait, than those children placed apart. There were no group differences on the family measures. Foster children's perceptions of the structure of their foster families were confused, and did not correspond to the objective household. These responses suggested family is an arbitrary unit to these children, reflecting physical presence in the home rather than psychological relationships. Implications for policy and theory were discussed.

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