Romantic Competence and Adolescent Courtship: The Multidimensional Nature of the Construct and Differences by Age and Gender
Viejo Almanzor, Carmen
Ortega Ruiz, Rosario
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Adolescent courtship is emerging as an important developmental process which impacts social balance and adjustment in the teenage years. Both the cultural context and different individual competencies seem to determine the success or failure of this process. However, there is little research focusing on the direct relationship between interpersonal skills and adolescent courtship, possibly due to the lack of suitable instruments to measure it. This study takes this process further by adapting a multifactorial measurement of Interpersonal Competence to the framework of adolescent courtship (Adolescent Interpersonal Competence Questionnaire for Courtship (AICQc)), and by analyzing these skills according to gender and age. A total of 1584 adolescents (48.9% girls and 51.1% boys) between the ages of 12 and 17 who were in compulsory secondary education participated in the study. Based on the factor model proposed by Buhrmester et al., the Confirmatory Factor Analysis showed the validity of the instrument and a high internal consistency for five independent domains of competence: (a) initiating relationships; (b) assertiveness and the ability to say no; (c) self-disclosure; (d) providing emotional support; and (e) resolving conflicts. Age, as measured by the school year, was found to be a key factor in this regard. The results are discussed in terms of assessing interpersonal competence for relationships. There has been little research into this type of interpersonal competence and it is a key factor in facing the important developmental task for first-time couples of choosing a partner and managing adolescent courtship.