Perceived Relational Support in Adolescence: Dimensions, Configurations, and Adolescent Adjustment



The perceived relational support from four key providers (father, mother, special sibling, and best friend) on five provisions (quality of information, respect for autonomy, emotional support, convergence of goals, and acceptance) was examined for 2,262 adolescents (aged 12 – 18 years). In a variable-centered approach, factor analyses yielded five dimensions of support: three specific to providers (parent, friend, and sibling support) and two specific to provisions (convergence of goals and respect for autonomy). Only parental support was found to change (decrease) across age. In a person-centered approach, five types of adolescents with different configurations of perceived support were identified. The first three types differed in overall level of support (high, average, and low) for all of the five dimensions; the fourth type represented extremely low support from parents with above-average support from best friends; the fifth type consisted of adolescents with no best friend. These configurations were significantly related to different patterns of adolescent adjustment in various domains (psychological well-being, delinquency, substance use, and peer-group functioning).