Cinny Bubber

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Martin, Randall B.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Parental deprivation--Psychological aspects; Bereavement--Psychological aspects; Children of divorced parents--Psychology; Divorce--Psychological aspects


One of the most traumatic events a child can experience is the loss of a parent, either through death or divorce. If a child is unable to adjust to the loss experience, he or she may be more vulnerable to emotional difficulties as an adult. The purpose of this research was to assess the long-term effects of childhood parental loss in adulthood. Specifically, persons who experienced parental death or parental divorce were compared with persons who did not experience parental loss. It was expected that parental loss would be significantly associated with higher levels of depression and anger, and different levels of locus of control. Gender, age at time of loss, parental support, and current stress levels were expected to have mediating effects on the parental loss experience. Based on a screening process, a total of 223 student volunteers were selected for participation in this study. Within this sample, 29 subjects reported experiencing childhood parental death and 80 subjects reported experiencing childhood parental divorce. A total of 114 subjects, matched on age and sex, reported experiencing no childhood parental loss. Subjects completed several self-report questionnaires assessing depression, anger, locus of control, parental support, and life stress. Separate Analyses of Variance (ANOVAs) were conducted to assess the differences between the three groups on each of the dependent measures. In addition, a hierarchical regression analysis was conducted to assess the relationship between parental loss, current stress, and depression. The results of this study suggest that parental loss has differential effects on later adult life. Type of loss was associated with higher depression scores; however, only parental divorce subjects reported significantly higher levels of mood disturbance than no loss subjects. Remarriage of the surviving parent was associated with higher levels of anger in the parental death group, while low noncustodial parental support was associated with higher levels of anger in the parental divorce group. In addition, current stress levels were a significant mediating factor for parental loss and depression; increased stress was associated with higher levels of mood disturbance. No effects for gender and age at time of loss were found.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 86-96)


125 pages




Northern Illinois University

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