An examination of selected variables related to father-adult son intimacy



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Texas Tech University


Little scientific knowledge exists concerning father-son intimacy during adulthood. Four variables were identified from developmental literature and equity theory as being possible indicators of intimacy in the middle-aged father and young-adult son relationship. Commitment to the relationship, frequency of interaction, and perception of equity in the relationship were expected to be positive predictors of intimacy, while the direction of influence of son's age was uncertain. Fifty-five father and son dyads, representing three cohort groups (1980 graduates and fathers, 1982 graduates and fathers, and current freshmen and fathers) completed mailed questionnaires assessing their perceptions of their relationships. Pearson correlation and multiple regression analyses indicated that only commitment to the relationship was associated with the perception of intimacy for fathers and sons. In addition, analyses of variance indicated that cohort years and generations differed in perceptions of equity and frequency of interaction. Conclusions were that father's and son's level of commitment serves as a predictor of the perceived intimacy in their relationship, and that fathers and sons assess the intimacy in their relationship by the use of different variables at different developmental stages. The results supported the developmental theories of Gould (1978) and Levinson (1987) concerning adult males. No support was found for the interpretation of equity theory. Recommendations were offered for future research.