British Journal of Developmental Psychology

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Volume 2 Issue 2 (June 1984), Pages 95-190

The effects of father absence on children's achievement motivation, ego‐strength, and locus‐of‐control orientation: A five‐year longitudinal assessment (pages 167-178)

Predictions of reductions in children's achievement motivation, educational aspirations and interpersonal orientation due to early and prolonged father absence were investigated. To test these predictions, 120 father‐present and 120 father‐absent male and female children (aged 10 years) were assessed on measures of achievement motivation and related interpersonal orientation scales. A five‐year longitudinal follow‐up of 85 father‐absent and 85 father‐present subjects was carried out to assess subjects' later development. A multivariate analysis using a repeated measures design showed that father‐absent subjects, compared to father‐present subjects, declined in achievement motivation dimensions of competitiveness, desire for mastery, perseverance and willingness to endure negative consequences. They showed a corresponding increase in negative ego‐strength dimensions of social alienation and self‐centredness. The results indicated that father‐absent boys and girls changed differently in psychosocial dimensions over time and father absence had more adverse effects on boys than girls. Educational and developmental implications of the longitudinal analysis are discussed.

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