Emotional adaptation to relationship dissolution in parents and non-parents: A new conceptual model and measure

MILLINGS, Abigail, HIRST, Shannon L., SIROIS, Fuschia and HOULSTON, Catherine (2020). Emotional adaptation to relationship dissolution in parents and non-parents: A new conceptual model and measure. PLOS ONE, 15 (10), e0239712.

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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239712


Relationship dissolution can cause declines in emotional well-being, particularly if there are children involved. Individuals’ capacity to cope with the pragmatics of the situation, such as agreeing childcare arrangements, can be impaired. Before now, there has been no psychometric test to evaluate individuals’ emotional readiness to cope with these demands. This paper presents a model of emotional adaptation in the context of relationship dissolution and its key assumptions, and validates the Emotional Adaptation to Relationship Dissolution Assessment (EARDA). In Study 1 (Sample 1, n = 573 separated parents, Sample 2, n = 199 mix of parents and non-parents), factor analyses support the EARDA as a unidimensional scale with good reliability. In Study 2 (using Sample 1, and Sample 3, n = 156 separated parents) the convergent, discriminant, concurrent criterion-related, and incremental validity of the EARDA were supported by tests of association with stress, distress, attachment style, and co-parenting communication and conflict. In Study 3, the nomological network of emotional adaptation to relationship dissolution was explored in Sample 2 using cluster analysis and multi-dimensional scaling (MDS). Emotional adaptation clustered with positive traits and an outward focus, and was negatively associated with negative traits and an inward focus. Emotional adaptation was conceptually located in close proximity to active and adaptive coping, and furthest away from maladaptive coping. In Study 4 (n = 30 separated parents embarking on mediation), high, medium, and low emotional adaptation to relationship dissolution categories correlated highly with mediators’ professional judgement, offering triangulated face validity. Finally, in Study 5, EARDA scores were found to mediate between separation characteristics (time since break up, whether it was a shock, and who initiated the break up) and co-parenting conflict in Sample 1, supporting the proposed model. The theoretical innovation of this work is the introduction of a new construct that bridges the gap between relationship dissolution and co-parenting. Practical implications include the use of the measure proposed to triage levels of support in a family law setting.

Item Type: Article
Editor - Santana, Geilson Lima
Additional Information: ** From PLOS via Jisc Publications Router ** Licence for this article: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ **Journal IDs: eissn 1932-6203 **Article IDs: publisher-id: pone-d-19-26297 **History: published_online 28-10-2020; accepted 13-09-2020; collection 2020; submitted 18-09-2019
Uncontrolled Keywords: Research Article, Biology and life sciences, Social sciences, Medicine and health sciences, Physical sciences, Research and analysis methods
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0239712
Page Range: e0239712
SWORD Depositor: Colin Knott
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2020 17:34
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 21:30
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27511

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