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A two-year longitudinal investigation examined adolescents' (N = 100 girls and 99 boys) perceptions of social support in relationships with mothers, close friends, and romantic partners from Grade 10 (ages 14-16) to Grade 12 (ages 16-18). Adolescents, mothers, and close friends also provided descriptions of the participants' global self-worth and interpersonal competence. Variable-centered and person-centered analyses revealed that perceived social support tends to be similar across relationships and stable over time. Variable-centered analyses indicated that social support in mother-adolescent relationships was uniquely related to adolescent global self-worth; that social support in close friendships was uniquely related to social acceptance, friendship competence, and romantic competence; and that social support in romantic relationships was uniquely related to romantic competence. Person-centered analyses indicated that adolescents who reported high social support in all three relationships had higher selfworth and greater interpersonal competence than those who did not have a romantic relationship and who reported low social support in relationships with mothers and close friends; and that scores for adolescents who had a romantic relationship but who reported low social support in all three relationships fell in between these two groups. Taken together, variable-centered analyses suggest that different relationships influence different dimensions of competence, but person-centered analyses indicate that a sizable proportion of adolescents have relationships that act in concert with one another. Copyright © 2006 by Wayne State University Press.


© authors, originally published by Merrill-Palmer Quarterly