Parental Advice Giving and Psychological Control: Links to Close Friendships and Behavioral Outcomes in Early Adolescence. Jessica Meyer Heather Tencer Felicia Smith Jennifer Haynes University of Virginia Society for Research in Adolescence March 2004. Abstract.
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University of Virginia
Society for Research in Adolescence
Many parents struggle with the desire to provide guidance during the transition to adolescence, yet also remain sensitive to adolescents’ desire to develop autonomy. There is a wealth of evidence that indicates that autonomy-undermining methods of parental influence relate to negative outcomes in adolescents. However, less is known about the implications of parental behaviors that attempt to influence adolescents while still supporting their individuation. The current study begins this process by examining the ways in which attempts at influence via psychological control versus advice-giving diverge in their prediction of social and behavioral outcomes for adolescents. Data were obtained on a sample of 185 adolescents at ages 13 and 14, their friends, and their parents. Results revealed that higher levels of parental advice-giving were linked to less adolescent depression, drug/alcohol use, and delinquency. In contrast, psychological control was linked to more adolescent depression and delinquency and weaker teen/parent relationships. Interestingly, both psychological control and advice-giving were associated with weaker teen/peer relationships over the one-year period.
Sample characteristics.Data were collected from 185 adolescents (53% female), their close friends, and their parents, who were recruited from a public middle school. Adolescents were 13 years of age at Time 1 of the study and 14 years at Time 2. The sample was composed of Caucasians, African-Americans, and other minorities (58%, 29%, and 13%, respectively). The median family income was $43,700, with a range of $2,500 to over $70,000.
Parenting measures.The Childhood Report of Parenting Behavior Inventory (CRPBI) was used to assess both adolescent and maternal reports of maternal psychological control(Schaefer, 1965). The Ways Parents Influence Questionnaire (WPIQ) was used to assess both adolescent and maternal reports of parental advice-giving (Allen & Hall, 2000).
My mother would like to be able to tell me what to do all the time.
My mother is less friendly with me if I do not see things her way.
My parents explain to me who I should hang out with and what I should do with my friends.
Friendship measure.The Supportive Behavior Task (SBT) was used to measure adolescents’ and their friends’ behaviors during a discussion (Allen et al., 2003). Each adolescent was asked to talk about a problem with their friend for a period of 6 minutes. These interactions were videotaped and subsequently coded.
Parent/adolescent relationship measure.The Supportive Behavior Task (SBT) was also used to measure adolescents’ and their parents’ behaviors during an 8-minute discussion about a problem.
Engagement - How well the adolescent is engaged with their friend (e.g., eye contact, listening, asking questions).
Receptivity - Extent that the friend understands the concern raised by the adolescent and the adolescent feels satisfied with the friend’s attempts to address the problem.
Warmth - A sum score of three behaviors: warmth/mutual liking, engagement, and receptivity.
Depression measure.A version of the Childhood Depression Inventory (CDI) was used to assess adolescents’ self-reported depressive symptoms (Kovacs & Beck, 1977).
Delinquency measure.The Child Behavior Checklist-Youth Self-Report (YSR)was used to assess delinquent behavior in this sample (Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1987). The adolescents were asked to rate how well six delinquent behaviors applied to them during the previous six months.
Drug/alcohol use measure.Drug and alcohol use was measured in this sample using the Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents (Harter, 1988). Adolescents and their friends completed the measure about the target adolescents’ behaviors.
Autonomy measure.Autonomy and relatedness were measured using the Autonomy and Relatedness Observational Coding System (Allen et al., 1996). Each adolescent was asked to talk about an area of disagreement with their mother for a period of 8 minutes. These interactions were videotaped and subsequently coded.
Positive Autonomy – How well the adolescent demonstrates independence (e.g., stating reasons clearly for disagreeing, showing confidence in stating opinions).
Behavioral/psychological outcomes. Adolescents who received more psychological control from their mothers reported more depressive symptoms and more delinquent behaviors than other adolescents. In contrast, parental advice-giving was related to less delinquency, less drug/alcohol use, and less depression.
Friendship outcomes. Maternal psychological control was related to adolescents and their friends demonstrating less warmth, less receptivity, and less engagementover time. Likewise, advice-giving was linked to adolescents and their friends demonstrating less warmth and less receptivity over time.
Parent/adolescent relationships. Maternal psychological control was related to adolescents and their parents demonstrating less engagement and less receptivity in an interaction task.
Adolescent autonomy with parents. Parentaladvice-giving was related to adolescents demonstrating less positive autonomy with their mothers, while psychological control was not related to adolescent autonomy.
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We gratefully acknowledge support from the National Institute of Mental Health and Joseph Allen (Principal Investigator) for the conduct and write-up of this study.
Copies of this poster and related work in our lab are available at http://faculty.virginia.edu/allen.