African-American and European-American stepfamilies

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Margaret Crosbie-Burnett, Committee Chair


The stepfamily has become a prevalent family form in the Western world. Although research and clinical interest in stepfamilies has increased recently, there is a lacuna of research on ethnic minority stepfamilies.In this study, the Stepfamily Adjustment Scale (SAS) was administered to 21 African-American and 20 European-American stepfather families with at least one adolescent child in the home. The biological mother, stepfather, and adolescent forms of the SAS were utilized. The overall purpose of the study was to explore the similarities and differences between the two groups. Two hypotheses were included in the study. The role flexibility and open boundaries inherent in African-American extended family and kinship support systems was hypothesized to allow for greater adjustment and adaptability in stepfamilies. Specifically, the step relationship in African-American (AA) families was predicted to be more mutually suitable and less affected by problems with stepparental discipline than in European-American (EA) families. Exploratory post-hoc tests were conducted on all remaining subscales.Analysis of covariance was used to compare the groups. Ethnic group type (AA or EA) was the independent variable. The dependent variables were the overall scores for each of the SAS forms and each of the subscale means for the three SAS forms. The two groups were similar with respect to demographic variables, except for age of the adolescent, which was used as a covariate. The adolescents were younger in the EA group than in the AA group.The hypotheses were not supported. Only one subscale--the social support subscale on the adolescent form of the SAS--was found to be significant between the two ethnic groups. EA adolescents reported having more social support than AA adolescents. The results of the study indicate that there are few differences between African-American and European-American stepfather families.


Psychology, General; Sociology, Individual and Family Studies; Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

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