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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11144/Javeriana.upsy18-5.rips The Role of Interpersonal Problem Solving in Using the Immature Defense Mechanisms in Adolescents* El papel desarollado por la resolución de problemas interpersonales en el uso de mecanismos de defensa inmaduros en adolescentes Received: 15 August 2018 | Accepted: 04 November 2019 Ahmet Bedel Maltepe University, Turquía ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4215-9290 ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was examine to associations between interpersonal problem solving and immature defense mechanisms in addition to whether interpersonal problem solving predictors are of immature defense mechanisms. The participants of study the consists of 428 high schools students (184 of the students were females). Interpersonal Problem Solving Inventory and Defense Style Questionnaire were applied. Results of multiple regression analyses indicated that all variables of interpersonal problem solving skills together accounted for 32% of the variance in defense mechanisms. Specifically, significant predictors of immature defense mechanisms levels were lack of self-confidence, negative approach to the problems, constructive problem solving respectively. Generally, the levels of adolescents resort to immature defense mechanisms, lack of self-confidence and negative approach to the problem of the increase, a decrease constructive in problem-solving skills are seen to be effective. The results of the study was discussd within the results of the previous studies. Keywords Adolescent; interpersonal problem; problem-solving approaches; lack of self- confidence; defense mechanisms. Correspondence author. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org RESUMEN El objetivo de este estudio fue examinar las asociaciones entre la resolución de problemas interpersonales y los mecanismos de defensa How to cite: Bedel, A. (2019). The role of interpersonal inmaduros, y averiguar si los primeros son predictores de los segundos. problem solving in using the immature defense Los participantes fueron 428 estudiantes de enseñanza secundaria (184 mechanisms in adolescents. Universitas Psychologica, mujeres). Se aplicó el Cuestionario Interpersonal de Resolución de 18(5), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.11144/Javeriana.upsy Problemas y Tipo de Defensa. Los resultados de los análisis de regresión 18-5.rips múltiple mostraron que la totalidad de las variables habilidades de interpersonales para resolver problemas representaban el 32 % lade varianza de los mecanismos de defensa. Específicamente, los indicadores significativos de los niveles de mecanismos de defensa inmaduros fueron la falta de confianza en sí mismo, el enfoque negativo de los problemas y la resolución constructiva de problemas, respectivamente. En general, se comprobó que el nivel de mecanismos de defensa inmaduros de los adolescentes tiene un impacto negativo en el planteamiento de problemas en el aumento o en diminución de sus habilidades constructivas de Universitas Psychologica Colombia V. 18 No. 5 2019 ISSN 1657-9267 | | | | | | | Ahmet Bedel. resolución de problemas. Los resultados del estudio se (D'Zurilla, Maydeu-Olivares, & Pujol, 2011) and discuten en el contexto de los resultados de estudios interpersonal relationships (Joseph & Strain, previos. 2010; Sumi, 2012). Negative thinking is referred Palabras clave to as negative approach to the problem. Negative adolescente; problema interpersonal; enfoques de resolución de problemas; falta de autoconfianza; mecanismos de defensa. approach to the problem is the nonfunctional point of view for the problems experienced. It was concluded that individuals who have a negative point of view for the problems they face, perceive Adolescence period, in which development problems as a threat, and believe that these is fast, witnesses distinctive stressful and problems can’t be solved, and that they will fail worrisome life events. Seek for independence, in solving them (D'Zurilla, Nezu, & Maydeu- romantic relationships, academic achievement, Olivares, 2004), which affects their daily life professional orientation, peer relations and adjustments negatively (Bell & D’Zurilla, 2009) parental problems are important stressful life and which become effective on their spiritual events observed in this period (Kulaksızoğlu, signs (Ergin & Dağ, 2013). Problem-solving 2017; Santrock, 2014). Social problem solving skills are classified as logical, impulsive-careless, skill, which is an approach of conscious coping and avoiding styles, in the dimension of with stress and worrisome life events vary problem-solving skill. Logical - rational problem across individuals (Öğülmüş, 2006; Türnüklü, solving skill is referred to as constructive 2017). The concept of social problem solving problem solving skill (Eskin, 2018). Impulsive- was defined by D'Zurilla and Nezu (1971) as careless, and avoiding problem solving styles the application of cognitive behavioral method are nonfunctional approaches. These approaches by individual in effectively coping with the include nonfunctional coping behaviors in problematic situation in daily life. There are two solving problem, such as thoughtless, careless, sub-dimensions of problem solving approach, in avoiding the problem rather than coping it the social problem solving model developed by (D'Zurilla et al., 2004) and social anxiety (Baltaci D'Zurilla and Goldfried (1971) for interpersonal & Hamarta, 2013). The purpose of the social problem solving. These are approach to the problem solving model is to gain functional problem and problem solving skills. The sub- coping skill to individuals by increasing their dimension of approach to the problem is positive approaches to the problems they face, explained with two components as positive and decreasing their negative approaches and, and negative approach. Positive approach is avoidant and careless problem solving skills based on positive thinking. Those people who (Nezu, D’Zurilla, & Nezu, 2012). The findings approach to the problem positively regard the of the subject suggested that individuals with problem as a natural part of life, and have negative thoughts and nonfunctional ways of a positive opinion and feel confident on that coping with problems suffered from psychological the problem can be solved. They believe that distress such as more stress (Basut, 2006; Hirsch, time and effort are necessary to solve a problem Chang, & Jeglic, 2012), depression (Anderson, successfully (D'Zurilla, Chang, & Sanna, 2003; Goddard, & Powell, 2011; Eskin, 2018; Özdemir, Eskin, 2018). That they feel competent in Kuzucu, & Koruklu,2013), anxiety (Karataş, solving the problem makes positive contribution 2011; Siu & Shek, 2010) and suicidal ideation to their problem-solving skills (Korkut, 2017; (Fidan, Ceyhun, & Kırpınar, 2009; Holen, Yenice, 2012). Some studies revealed that having Lervag, Waaktaar, & Ystgaard, 2012; Spirito, problem solving skill has an effect on decrease Francis, Overholser, & Frank, 1996). While in aggression, anger, hostility (Seçer & Ogelman, social problem solving skill is one of the ways of 2011) and in negative behaviors (Bushman conscious coping with stress and anxious in life, & Peacock, 2010), and on increase in social defense mechanisms are defined as unconscious self-efficacy (Erözkan, 2013), positive emotion way of coping with those (Cüceloğlu, 2018, Universitas Psychologica V. 18 No. 5 2019 p. 301). Defense is the basic mechanism of difficulties experienced (Hentschel, Smith, & personality, and mental health workers attempt Draguns, 2004). While those people who have to influence this situation through consultation confident personality trait use mature defense (Perry & Metzger, 2014). When used within mechanisms such as humor and sublimation, certain limits, defense mechanisms help people those people who have antisocial personality in difficult situations until they manage to cope trait use immature defense mechanisms such with stressful situations more directly (Cramer, as denial (Weinberger, 1998). These mature 1998). With the help of defense mechanisms, defense mechanisms contribute to attain new the adjustment between id, superego and meanings and perspectives in conflict resolution environmental forces is balanced, contributing (Metzger, 2014). In the study conducted by to ego to gain strength (Freud, 2015, p. 105). Evren et al. (2012), it was determined that While defense mechanisms provide temporary alcohol users using mature defense mechanism relief, they often distort reality, and prevent exhibit less self-harm behaviors. The use of problems from being solved effectively. A person mature defense mechanism was found to have who is bound up with defense mechanisms may an important relationship with negative attitude never learn more effective ways to cope with against empathy, competence and hostility problems (Cüceloğlu, 2018). The ego defense (Davidson, MacGregor, Johnson, Woody, & mechanisms in adolescence period aims at to Chaplin, 2004), with low depressive symptoms protect the psychological integrity and balance (Waqas et al., 2015), social skills and mature of the organism. Everybody uses various defense behaviors (Cramer, 2002; Kwon, 2002), with mechanisms to sustain his/her psychological positive perfectionism (Dickinson & Ashby, integrity and to preserve the value of his/her 2005; Flett, Besser, & Hewitt, 2005), with own ego. If these reactions become a main tool life satisfaction (Lyke, 2016). On the other to cope with constrained situations, and are hand, individuals using immature and neurotic exaggerated so that they will prevent individual’s defense mechanisms are seen to show negative adjustment, then they will become unhealthy symptoms of mental health. The use of immature (Cüceloğlu, 2018; Geçtan, 2017). The energy and neurotic defense mechanism was found spent to plead reduces the energy available to have a significant relationship with stress for a productive and satisfying life (Gerring & (Hyphantis, Palieraki, Voulgari, Tsifetaki, & Zimbardo, 2016). In the study conducted by Drosos, 2011), negative emotions (Steiner et Andrews, Singh, and Bond (1993); (Yılmaz, al., 2007), somatic complaints (Hyphantis, Gençöz, & Ak, 2007), defense mechanisms were Goulia, & Carvalho, 2013), avoidant personal collected under three headings, including mature trait (Seaton & Beaumont, 2011), antisocial defenses (sublimation, humor, expectation, personality trait (Presnıak, Olson, & Macgregor, suppression), immature defenses (reflection, 2010), mood disorder, panic disorder (Chávez- passive aggression, externalise, derogation, León, Lara-Muñoz, & Ontiveros-Uribe, 2006), denial, displacement, splitting, rationalization, personality disorder (Cramer, 1999), alcohol somatization), and neurotic defenses (make (Brody & Costa, 2013) and anger (Offer, Lavie, - disrupt, idealization, reaction formation, Gothelf, & Apter, 2000). In the studies of which altruism). Mature defense mechanism is physical health related outcomes, as well as considered as a functional defense form. The mental health related outcomes, were discussed, findings of the relevant studies suggested it was found that those people with mature that healthy individuals use mature defense defense mechanisms have better physical health mechanisms more frequently, and exhibit in advanced life (Malone, Cohen, Liu, Vaillant, compatible behaviors (Yılmaz et al., 2007). & Waldinger, 2013). Mature defense mechanisms allow undesirable The above explanations show that there emotions to be expressed in socially acceptable are relationships between defense mechanisms forms (Pellitteri, 2002) and to reduce the and various social, psychological and emotional Universitas Psychologica V. 18 No. 5 2019 | | | | | Ahmet Bedel. variables. In the literature review, any study out the items in the scales were excluded from investigating the relationship between problem the assessment. The average age of the students solving skills and defense mechanisms in participating in the study was 17.24 (SD:1.04). domestic and abroad people hasn’t been found. The other demographic characteristics of the It is believed that the outcomes of this study will sample are shown in Table 1. provide important contributions to the problem Table 1 solving and defense mechanisms literature. This Gender, class and school type information of research was conducted on high school students. participants The biological, cognitive and social changes that are experienced in this period can also lead to emotional tension. There may also be an increase in students’ interpersonal problems with family and surroundings. Students’ problem solving approaches towards the problems they faced, conscious coping skills, and unconscious coping approaches are within psychological counselors’ field of interest. Accordingly, it is expected that the findings of this research will guide to the Instruments formation of the contents of preventive guidance and psychological counseling programs to be Interpersonal Problem Solving Inventory ([IPSI]; prepared by psychological counselors working Çam & Tümkaya, 2008) in schools. In this context, the purpose of the study is to investigate the relationships between interpersonal problem-solving approaches and IPSI is a 5 point Likert scale (1 = Not suitable immature defense mechanisms, and to determine at all, 5 = Completely suitable) consisting of whether immature defense mechanisms can 50 items, developed to measure the problem- be significantly predicted through interpersonal solving approaches and skills of high school problem-solving approaches. students. The scale consists of a total of five subscales, including negative approach tothe problem (NAP), constructive problem solving Method (CPS), lack of self-confidence (LS), unwilling to take responsibility (UR), insistent-persevering Participants approaches (I-PA). The high score obtained from each subscale indicates that the relevant The study was conducted in accordance with feature of interpersonal problem-solving is high. overall screening model. The universe of the The internal consistency Cronbach's alpha study consisted of high school students in coefficients of subscale scores of IPSI were found Konya province center. The sample of the study as follows: NAP = 0.89, CPS= 0.87, LS = 0.67, consisted of 15 classes, randomly selected from UR = 0.68 and I-PA = 0.7. The test-retest the classes with an average of 30 students in correlation values of the inventory was found to each, determined by the simple random sampling range between .67 and .84 (Çam & Tümkaya, method from the classes in vocational high 2008). In the scope of this study, the internal school and the anatolian high school in the consistency Cronbach's alpha coefficients of central district, of which students were thought subscale scores of IPSI were found as follows: to represent the high school students in general. NAP = 0.86, CPS = 0.83, LS =0 .67, UR = 0.73 The scales used in the study were applied to a and I-PA = 0.76. total of 450 students in these classes, and the test batteries of 22 students who didn’t fully fill Universitas Psychologica V. 18 No. 5 2019 in the study, by receiving the approval of the Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ, 1999). students. The data were also evaluated for the compatibility with multiple analyzes; skewness The questionnaire which measures ego defenses and kurtosis coefficients were found to range was developed by Bond, Gardner, Christian and between -0.39 and 0.34 and -0.74 and -0.2, Sigal in 1983 (cited in Bodur, 1999). The short respectively, for each variable used in the study, form of the questionnaire was obtained as a and, it was observed that they satisfied the result of its adaptation to Turkish, performed assumption of normal distribution since the data by Bodur (1999). DSQ is a 9 point likert scale range between +1 and -1 (Tabachnik & Fidel, (1 = Not suitable for me at all, 5 = Completely 2015). suitable for me) consisting of 26 items, developed to measure the defense ways of individuals aged 19 years and over. The high total score obtained Data analysis indicates that the level of immature defense is high. In the reliability study, DSQ short form In order to examine potential relations among was found to have high internal consistency (α research variables which are interpersonal = 0.71). In the validity study, it was seen that problem solving, and immature defense DSQ short form had significant relationships style scores, Pearson Moments Multiplication with continuous anxiety scale (Öner, 1977) r Correlation coefficients have been calculated. = 0.38, p < 0.05, with social comparison scale To the end of determining explanatory ratio (Savaşır & Şahin, 1997) r = -0.41, p < 0.05, of interpersonal problem solving on immature with neuroticism r = 0.72, p < 0.001, and defense mechanisms Multiple Regression psychotism dimensions of Eysenk Personality Test Analysis has been employed. Their relative (Öner, 1977). Based on these results, it is thought explanatory levels have been compared via that the DSQ short form can evaluate immature standardized Beta (b) values (Büyüköztürk, ego defense mechanisms more accurately (Bodur, 2017). 1999). Besides, due to the fact that reliability and validity studies during the Turkish adaptation Results of the scale was conducted on individuals aged 19 years and over, and that the mean age Correlations regarding interpersonal problem was 17.24 in the study, the validity of the inventory, defense style questionnaire imployed reliability studies were conducted to determine in present research are presented in Table 2. the appropriateness of the scale to the relevant age group. Within the scope of this study, Table 2 the Cronbach's alpha coefficient of the scale Correlations among interpersonal problem-solving was found as .88. The scale was found very inventory and defense style questionnaire compatible (χ /df = 1.89, GFI = 0.9, CFI = 0.91, RMSEA = 0.051, SRMR = 0.054) with the sampling data, as a result of confirmatory factor analysis made. *p < 0.05 **p < 0.01 Procedure Table 2 displays that there is a medium level and positive relation between negative problem orientation and immature defense mechanisms (r The scales used in the study were applied by the school counselor to the students within the = 0.404, p < 0.01), medium level and negative class hours. Before the application, the purpose relation with constructive problem solving and of the study was briefly explained to the students, immature defense mechanisms (r = -0.297, p and only volunteers were provided to participate < 0.01), medium level and positive relation Universitas Psychologica V. 18 No. 5 2019 | | | | | Ahmet Bedel. between lack of self-confidence and immature immature defense form. Besides, when the results defense mechanisms (r = 0.45, p > 0.05). There of the analysis were examined to see which is no significant relationsihip unwilling to take variables explain the use of immature defense responsibility (r = 0.091, p > 0.05) and insistent- mechanisms, it was seen that the strongest persevering orientation ( r = -0.56, p > 0.05) predictor variable was lack of self-confidence, with immature defense mechanisms. which was followed by the variables of negative In order to determine the predictive level approach to the problem and constructive of interpersonal problem-solving variables on problem solving, respectively. In social problem immature defense mechanisms, multilinear solving model, it is important to be confident regression analysis was carried out and the in functional solving the problems experienced. obtained results are in Table 3. Individuals feeling inadequate themselves in terms of self-confidence show passiveness and Table 3 insecurity adopting avoidant style when faced Multiple regression analysis for the prediction of with problems. An individual in that case prefer immature defense mechanisms to avoid problem rather than overcome it. He/ she delays it as far as possible, and waits for it to be solved by itself. This increases the use of immature defense mechanisms. However, having a self-confident personality trait will ***p < 0.001 increase the frequency of using mature defense mechanisms such as humor and sublimation Table 3 shows that all variables detected as (Weinberger, 1998). Having frequent recourse predictive variables collectively predict immature to immature defense mechanisms, depending on defense style on significant level (p < 0.001) mutual interaction, may prevent an individual and explain about 32% of the variance in from learning effective problem solving skill immature defense style. As relevant Beta values (Cüceloğlu, 2018). are examined it surfaces that the strongest Another finding is that the predictor variable predictor of immature defense style is lack of of using immature defense mechanisms is self-confidence (b = 0.314) ensued by negative negative approach to the problem. In the social orientation to the problem (b =0.275) and problem solving model, negative approach to a constructive problem solving (b = -0.238) the problem includes negative thoughts and variables. emotions towards the problem experienced (D'Zurilla et al., 2004; Eskin, 2018). Having Discussion negative thoughts and feelings on experienced problems causes individual to approach problems When research findings are examined, it negatively, which adversely affects his/her daily was seen that there is a moderate positive life adjustments (Bell & D'Zurilla, 2009). The relationship between the dimensions of negative negative approach prevents to give meanings approach to the problem and of lack of to experienced problems, with different point self-confidence of interpersonal problem-solving of view, produce alternative solution options, and immature defense form, and moderate and decision making skill (Metzger, 2014). This negative relationship between the dimension of approach limits individual to look problems from constructive problem solving of interpersonal a broad perspective (Özcan & Öğülmüş, 2010). problem-solving and immature defense form. This can lead individual to avoid from problems, It was concluded that there is no significant and use immature defense mechanisms more relationship between the dimensions of unwilling than ever. As consistent with previous finding, to take responsibility and of insistent-persevering individuals who adversely approach the problems approaches of interpersonal problem-solving and that they face don’t believe that they can solve Universitas Psychologica V. 18 No. 5 2019 these problems, and their self-sufficiency can be to be effective on adolescents’ levels of use of lower. They can exhibit the behavior of avoiding immature defense mechanisms. The result of from problems, and an increase in the frequency the study reveals the importance of problem of using immature defense mechanisms can be solving skill in terms of decrease in adolescents’ observed. In the study by Seaton and Beaumont levels of use of immature defense mechanisms. (2011), it was concluded that individuals with Adolescents’ intensive recourse to immature unsociable personality trait use immature defense defense mechanisms can negatively affect their mechanisms more frequently. On the other hand, life adjustments, causing their psychological to regard faced problem as an opportunity, integrity to be damaged. This situation attempt to solve it, and the positive viewpoint is within school psychological counselors’ of individual in case of being unable to solve field of interest. Therefore, psychoeducation problem are factors that help him/her to meet programs (interpersonal problem solving, conflict adverse events in a mature way (Ellis & Harper, resolution, social skills training, etc.) and 2017). In spite of experienced problems, these individual psychological counseling practice positive thoughts and feelings help individual studies that will help them gain social problem to use his/her psychological and social resources solving skill are recommended in preventive (Folkman, 2008). guidance and psychological counseling services Another finding is that the predictor to be carried out with children and variable of recourse level to immature defense adolescents. The study group of the research mechanisms is constructive problem solving skill. consisted of students continuing high school As constructive problem solving skill increase, in Konya, Turkey. Conducting this study with the level of use of immature defense mechanisms adolescents receiving formal education is one decreases. Using his/her problem solving ability of the limitations of the study. In terms of will help someone to cope with difficulties generalizability of its findings, the study should that he/she experienced. Constructive problem be repeated with different groups such as solving skill is a functional problem solving adolescents outside formal education or those approach. It includes process phases such as with different qualifications. The study findings identifying problem, creating alternative options, should be supported with experimental studies. decision making and application. Besides, some studies suggested that the increase in the level Acknowledgements of social skills has an important effect on individual to feel competent himself (Erözkan, A portion of this study has been presented in 2013), and on constructive solution of the Yıldız International Conference on Educational problems encountered in interpersonal relations Research and Social Sciences in 2014. (Joseph & Strain, 2010; Sumi, 2012; Türnüklü, 2017). Constructive problem solving skill is a References preventative factor in coping with stress and anxiety (Korkut, 2017; Linda, Marroquıín, & Miranda, 2012). 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Retrieved from http://www.turkpsikiyatri.com/default .aspx?modul=turkceOzet&gFPrkMakale =589 Notes * Research article. Universitas Psychologica V. 18 No. 5 2019 | | | | |
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