Date of Conferral
This research study examined autonomy in young adult college students who grew up in intact households with 2 biological parents, compared to young adult college students who grew up in nonintact households without 2 biological parents due to divorce, separation, single parenthood, or death. The current literature lacks research regarding the impact of growing up in a nonintact household during childhood or adolescence for young adults. In recent years, there have been fewer young adults who lived in intact households during their childhood and adolescent years. Arnett's developmental theory is that the major task during young adulthood is developing decision-making skills and accepting oneself. Healthy relationships in early adult life emerge from emotional bonding with early caregivers. The 128 participants in this study were college-aged students, ages 18'24 years, who were enrolled in higher education in a midsize city in the Midwestern United States. In this between-group causal comparative analysis of survey data, the Worthington Autonomy Scale was used to determine whether there were any differences in subdivisions of autonomy in adult college students. College students who lived in intact households during childhood or adolescence had higher levels of autonomy and perceived higher household socioeconomic status when compared to students growing up in nonintact households, with no differences in autonomy based on living with a same-sex or opposite sex parent. This research will increase awareness of the potential for decreased autonomy in college students who lived in nonintact households prior to entering college and may prompt the development of programs and support groups to address autonomy for young adult college students.