The Longitudinal Examination of the Directional Effects Between Perceived Parental Psychological Control and Adolescents’ Self-Reported Externalizing and Internalizing Problems in Lithuania

Goda Kaniušonytė


Goda Kaniušonytė, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania
Rita Žukauskienė, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

It is known that parental rearing practices has effect on children’s social, emotional, and behavioral development. One of those practices is parental psychological control (behavior that includes constraining, invalidating, and emotionally manipulating the child). There is strong evidence that parental psychological control is associated with adolescents’ maladjustment, including internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors. Numerous studies have shown that parents of children and adolescents with internalizing and externalizing problems use more controlling behaviors, however, there is no consensus regarding direction of this effect. Therefore, in the current study we examined a longitudinal cross-lagged model in order to determine whether parental excessive control plays a causal role in the development of adolescents’ problem behavior or vice versa.

In study we used three-wave longitudinal community sample of Lithuanian adolescents. In this study only students who lived with both parents were used (N = 586, Mage T1 = 15.63, 51. 4 % girls). Participants reported on parental (Father and mother separately) psychological control (8-item Psychological Control Scale-Youth Self Report, PCS-YSR, Barber 1996) and internalizing/externalizing problem behaviors (ASEBA Youth Self-Report, YSR 11-18, Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001). Consistent with the goal of examining reciprocal relations among paternal and maternal psychological control and internalizing and externalizing problems over time, we used cross-lagged analysis.

Results and Conclusion
Results revealed evidence for both parents and adolescent effects with strongest effects for internalizing behaviors to parental psychological control and mothers’ psychological control to adolescents’ externalizing behaviors. We found significant differences between boys and girls in their problem behaviors and perception of parental psychological control. However, the absence of clear pattern prevents us from assumptions about the importance of parents’ gender separately for boys and girls. No moderation effect of age and socio-economic status was found, indicating that relationship between psychological control and problem behavior is consistent in different age groups and independent of socio-economic status. Overall, the results provide support to a reciprocal model in that adolescents affect parents as much as parents affect adolescents.

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