Parental separation and divorce are becoming common experiences for an increasing number of children in Western industrialized countries. Although a great deal of research has been conducted on children from “broken” families, few studies have examined the impact of family structure on children’s value development. Values, which are guiding principles for evaluations and behavior, are negotiated and reevaluated especially during adolescence. Thus, this study aimed a) to compare the values of adolescents belonging to separated/divorced families to the values of adolescents belonging to intact families; b) to exam the relation between values and transgressive behavior, testing the hypothesis that contextual factors (i.e., family structure) affect the relation between values and behavior. Participants were 265 adolescents living in Northern Italy. 40.4% of them were from separated or divorced families, whereas the remaining 59.6% had intact families. Adolescents were asked to fill out the Portrait Values Questionnaire and the Self Report of Antisocial Behavior. Results of ANOVAs and regressions showed that: a) adolescents from separated/divorced families gave more importance to stimulation (i.e., novelty and challenge in life) and to hedonism, and less importance to conservatism than did their peers; b) family structure moderated the positive relation between stimulation and adolescents’ propensity to transgression and the negative relation between conservatism and transgression. These links were significantly stronger among adolescents living in separated/divorced families, thus highlighting the crucial role of values, especially in potentially risky situations.
- Parental separation or divorce
- Propensity to transgression