The effect of family structure on adolescents in Saudi Arabia: a comparison between adolescents from monogamous and polygamous families

Al-Sharfi, Mohammad Ahmad (2017) The effect of family structure on adolescents in Saudi Arabia: a comparison between adolescents from monogamous and polygamous families. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


This study investigated the effects of family structure on 13-18 year-old adolescents in Saudi Arabia. Comparisons were made between adolescents from polygamous and monogamous families in psychological well-being (self-esteem, satisfaction with life, depression), bullying and victimization. A series of investigations assessed the effects of family structure and several demographic variables on adolescents’ psychological well-being and behaviour. Also, the mediating role of parent-adolescent relationships measured by parent-adolescent bonding and father availability was investigated.
A systematic review of previous research established that few studies had investigated mediating variables, such as demographic variables. In the first study, comparisons were made between 98 adolescents from polygamous and monogamous families. Results found that adolescents from polygamous families reported more problems in their psychological well-being, bullying and victimization than adolescents from monogamous families.
The aim of the second study was to establish the validity of the Parental Bonding Instrument for use with adolescents in Saudi Arabia. The parental bonding instrument was validated for use in Saudi society with 301 participants aged 13-18 years. Results found that the ‘care’ dimension of the parental bonding instrument was valid for use in Saudi Arabia but the ‘overprotection’ dimension was not considered to be culturally valid because of different cultural patterns found in Saudi culture.
The third study compared 266 adolescents from polygamous and monogamous families using the validated parental bonding instrument. The results found that adolescents in polygynous families reported lower ‘care’ scores than those in monogamous families. Also, comparisons by age group and gender found no effects of age or gender for father care, mother care, self-esteem, satisfaction with life, bullying or victimisation. A significant difference was found between age groups for depression.
The fourth study was conducted with 500 adolescents using structural equation modelling to test the role of the parent-adolescent relationship measured by parental bonding on adolescent self-esteem, satisfaction with life, depression, bullying and victimisation. For polygamous families, parental care was a significant mediating variable between adolescent outcomes and the family variables of father availability and the position of the mother as the first or later wife. For monogamous families, although parental care predicted adolescent outcomes, family variables did not affect parental care.
The fifth study was a qualitative analysis of interviews with 30 adolescents and 10 teachers on perceptions of father fairness, family functioning, attitudes toward polygamous marriage and academic achievement. Problems reported for polygamous families were lack of father fairness and family cohesion, emotional and behavioural problems, and poor academic achievement.
In conclusion, this thesis is the first study to investigate the effects of polygamous family structure on adolescents in Saudi society and the first to provide a culturally validated measure of adolescent-parent attachment relationships. It was found that polygamy affects adolescent psychological well-being and behaviour, also adolescents’ perceptions of parental care and the fairness with which they feel that their father treats them have important effects on their relationship with their parents, their sense of well-being and their behaviour. The findings will be valuable for educators, counsellors and psychologists in Saudi Arabia.

Keywords:Family structure, Polygamy, Attachment
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C820 Developmental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:28650
Deposited On:31 Aug 2017 08:33

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