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Abstracts of completed and ongoing studies

Constructing AcTiveCitizensHip with European Youth: Policies, Practices, Challenges and Solutions CATCH-EyoU

The joint research project within the Horizon 2020 program by the EU aims at identifying the factors, located at different levels influencing the different forms of youth active engagement in Europe. Through different studies, qualitative, quantitative, and an active citizenship intervention in schools, the project will provide a multifaceted understanding of the different factors influencing the perspectives of young people on Europe and of the ways in which young people engage in society, offering policy makers new instruments and "conceptual lenses" to better understand this generation, how they approach public authorities and how they engage materially and symbolically in order to participate in the construction of the societies they inhabit and shape the governmental regimes under which they live.

Besides Italy, where the University of Bology is coordinating the project, there are project groups in Sweden, Greek, Czech Republic, Estonia, Portugal, Great Britain and Germany:

Team leader (Universität Jena): Peter Noack

Team members: Philipp Jugert (University of Leipzig), Katharina Eckstein (University of Jena), Markus Barth (University of Leipzig), Monique Landberg (University of Jena)

Everyday Interactions and the Development of Autonomy During Adolescence

The longitudinal study (grant: DFG) examines stability and change of family and friendship relations during early adolescence and associations linking social relations and adolescent self-concept and autonomy. Three assessments at one-year time intervals served to collect observational and questionnaire data. A particular focus was on the analysis of conversations which adolescents had with both parents and a best friend, respectively. Questionnaire data on relationship quality and aspects of adolescent self-concept allow to juxtapose the different perspective of the relationship partners.

PI: Peter Noack

Co-worker: Michael Fingerle

Close Relationships and Psychosocial Adjustment in Adolescence and Early Adulthood

The major objective of this research funded by Jacobs Foundation was to study patterns of close relationships during adolescence and early adulthood. 12- to 30-year olds completed questionnaires addressing different aspects of their relations with mothers, fathers, and best friends. Analyses served to test whether age-graded differences in soco-emotional and structural qualities of relations correspond to tenets of individuation theory. An additional focus was on relative influences of the different relationship partners on aspects of psycho-social adjustment. A parallel study conducted in the U.S. (PI: Brett Laursen, Florida Atlantic University) allowed to test the generalizability of findings.

PI: Peter Noack

Individuation and Social Change

The study on individuation and social change was started shortly after German unification. First assessments took place in Winter 1992 followed by five waves of data collection in the course of the following years. At each measurement point, questionnaires were administered in a sample of families with adolescent sons or daughters (who were 15 years old at t1)) living in East and West Germany, respectively. The study was designed to shed light on associations between experiences of social change, aspects of family relations, and psycho-social adaptation of adolescents and their parents. The central hypothesis claimed that accelerated social change negatively impacts the quality of family relations and, in turn, affects the individual family members. A particular focus was on adolescents' transition from school to work as well as on civic attitudes, namely social and political openness and tolerance. In addition to questionnaire assessments observationa data were collected in a subsample of families to elucidate processes of family interaction. The study was conducted in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Mannheim and the University of Leipzig. Assessments conducted in the UK and in the Czech Republic served to disentangle more general effects from those peculiar for Germany after unification. Even though the study is officially completed for since the end of the 1990s, further analyses of the rich data sets have been conducted since and are still underway.

PIs: Manfred Hofer, Peter Noack, Elke Wild, Bärbel Kracke
Co-workers: Maren Oepke, Bernd Puschner

Value of Education

As part of a DFG focus program, this research examines students' attitudes and beliefs concerning education, namely in the domain of mathematics. Particular interest is in family and school influences on these attittudes as well as their consequences in terms of learning behavior and achievement. The main study following a longitudinal format included about 1100 students from low and high-track schools (Regelschule, Gymnasium) in Thüringen, Germany, who had just entered high school (grade 5) when participating in the first wave of data collection. The second assessment was conducted around the middle of grade 6, i.e. one and a half years later. The study also included questionnaire assessments with both parents, one sib, teachers, and school principals. The sample design allows for multi-levelanalyses disentangling effects of the individual, classroom, and school level. Findings corroborate considerable variation depending on family SES and school track. At the same time, the classroom climate affects the development students' mathematics achievement.

Peter Noack
Co-workers: Juliane Strecker,
Burkhard Gniewosz

Socialization in different types of families: Biological families, single-parent families, and Step-families in East and West Germany.

Since November 1998, we participate in a comprehensive longitudinal study of conditions of socialization in different types of families living in East and West Germany. The study was initiated by colleagues from the University of Munich (Sabine Walper, Klaus A. Schneewind). A major objective of the study is to test assumptions concerning psychological processes that account for well-documented variations in psycho-social adjustment observed among children from biological families and other types of families. To this aim a sample of about 800 families was included at t1 to participate in questionnaire and interview assessments. The study covered a period of seven years with four (West) and three (East) measurement points. Data analyses suggest more similarities than differences between families of different structure. It seems to be rather conflict in the family than the experience of separation per se that results in problems. E.g., findings point to nuclear families characterized by high levels of conflict as the most problematic group. Due to the long-term longitudinal design of the study, assessments have also yielded prospective data on changes in family structure such as single-mother families which have become step-families when the mother married again. Recent analyses focus on these changes and shed light on their consequences for sons and daughters during adolescence.

PI: Peter Noack
Co-workers: Stefan Haubold, Christine Krettek

School and tolerance

The study examines school-based influences on civic tolerance among students during adolescence. The focus is on effects of domain-specific classes (social science, ethics) as well as on cross-curricular conditions and experiences of tolerance and participation and their effects on social attitudes and behavioural tendencies. A major assumption guiding the study claims that it is particularly experiences of democracy in the small social world of the school that contributes to civic development. At the same time, the study examines interactions of school and family influences. Data assessments follow a longitudinal design and have started in 2003 (t1) with a total of 1300 students attending 6th, 8th, and 10th grade of low and high-tack schools in the state of Thüringen. Assessments are extended to also include reports of parents, one sib, teachers, and school principals. The sample design allows for multi-level analyses which promise to elucidate effects of school conditions going beyond students' individual perceptions of the classroom context. Additional studies address effects of domain-specific instruction as well as the validity of questionnaire measures of social attitudes.

PI: Peter Noack
Mitarbeiter: Burkhard Gniewosz

Adults and their parents

The study investigates into relations between individuals in early and middle adulthood and their parents. It draws on individuation theory that postulates stable and socio-emotionally connected relations between children and parents. At the same time, the theory expects an incsrease of mutuality and equality during adolescence with relations eventually resulting in a symmetrical pattern. The study sets out to test these assumptions and to identify factors contributing to relationship development such as biographical transitions, e.g., entry into work-life and first parenthood, of the adult children. Parents as well as their adult sons and daughters responded to questionnaires. To address mechanisms of relationship change, additional assessments were conducted employing a diary methodology and analyses of verbal interactions in the family. The mainly cross-sectional methodology was complemented by a short-term longitudinal study focusing on the transition from university to work. Findings confirm the expectation of further changes in relations during children's adult years. Data suggest increases in relationship symmetry but also a considerable variance in parent-child connectedness. In general, conflicts seem to decline depending on the transition to work while relationship affect increases. Diary data point to various types of social support which are related to the individuation of family relations.

PIs:Heike Maria Buhl & Peter Noack
Co-workers: Diana Rieger, Susan Burgau, Tabea Sporer