An Analysis Of Kinship In Personal Support Systems

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Richard E. Pearson


Academic guidance counseling

Subject Categories

Social Psychology


The social environment has been increasingly implicated with the healthy functioning of individuals. It has been suggested that deficits in the social environment lead to dissatisfaction and psychological morbidity.

In this study a sample of individuals described their social environments by responding to Pearson's (1982) Personal Support System Survey. The purpose of the study was to explore the value of particular individuals in the subjects' personal support systems with reference to satisfaction with the support system. The unit of investigation consisted of primary kin, specifically, "siblings", "spouse", "parents" and "offspring".

One hundred and five Canadian females from the province of Ontario participated in this study by responding to the Support System Survey (P3S). The Family Crisis Scale (FCS), modelled after the Holmes and Rahe (1967) Social Readjustment Rating Scale was developed to rank subject's reactions to family crisis. The hypotheses were organized into three sections. The first section, hypotheses 1 to 4, suggested that satisfaction with the support system would be significantly related to the proportion of kinship, i.e. "siblings", "spouse", "parents", and "offspring" in the support system. The second section, hypotheses 5 to 7, suggested significant differences between satisfied and dissatisfied subjects with reference to the inclusion, rank and interaction with primary kin members. Hypothesis 8 suggested significant relationships between the subjects' experience of crisis, the stability of their support systems and satisfaction with their support systems.

This study revealed the following results: (1) Satisfied individuals included "spouse" and "parents" more often than dissatisfied individuals, (2) Satisfied individuals ranked "spouse" and "parents" higher in their support systems than dissatisfied individuals, and (3) Satisfied individuals interacted more frequently with "spouse" and "parents" than dissatisfied individuals.

The results of this study were explained from an attachment/sociobiological perspective. Implications for counseling, counselor education and research were discussed.


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