Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 374–386 | Cite as

Total and Attuned Multiple Autonomy Support and the Social Development of Early Adolescents

  • Francisco Alexandre Melo SimõesEmail author
  • Maria Manuela de Amorim Calheiros
  • Madalena Moutinho Alarcão e Silva
  • Áurea Sandra Toledo Sousa
  • Osvaldo Dias Lopes da Silva
Original Paper


The effects of Multiple Autonomy Support (MAS), meaning the autonomy support provided by two or more sources, is an overlooked topic in social development literature. The aim of this study is to understand how two types of MAS, Total Multiple Autonomy Support (TMAS) and Multiple Autonomy Support Attunement (MASA), are related to early adolescents’ social development indicators (prosocial behavior, self-regulation, antisocial behavior, alcohol use, and 1-year substance use intention). TMAS pertains to the general amount of autonomy support perceived by a MAS recipient, irrespectively of each provider’s contribution to that score. MASA refers to the interindividual patterns of perceived coordination among MAS providers, based on each provider’s autonomy scores. The participants were 818 early adolescent Portuguese (M = 12.15; SD = .81; 54.2% girls) surveyed in a cross-sectional exploratory study about MAS provided by parents, teachers, and mentors. Descriptive analyses revealed levels of low (n= 81; 10.00%), moderate (n= 432; 52.82%), and high (n= 302; 36.91%) TMAS. A k-cluster analysis revealed four MASA groups: low attuned MAS (n= 128; 15.65), misattuned MAS/low attuned parent autonomy support (n= 225; 27.51%), misattuned MAS/low attuned teacher autonomy support (n= 177; 21.64%), and high attuned MAS (n= 288; 32.21%). Ordinal regressions show that, after controlling for age, a pattern of high attuned MAS predicts better prospects of prosocial behavior and self-regulation, as opposed to high levels of TMAS. In addition, MASA involving low teacher autonomy support predicts the worst results on the selected indicators of social development.


Autonomy support Attunement Parents Teachers Mentors 


Author Contributions

F.S.: designed and executed the study, participated in data analyses, and wrote the paper. M.M.S.: collaborated with the design and writing of the study. M.A.: collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. A.S.: collaborated in data analyses. O.S.: collaborated in data analyses.


This work was funded by a research grant from Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (SFRH/BPD/99616/2014).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the involved research institutions and with national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

All the participants provided their informed consent to collaborate in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Alexandre Melo Simões
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria Manuela de Amorim Calheiros
    • 1
    • 2
  • Madalena Moutinho Alarcão e Silva
    • 3
  • Áurea Sandra Toledo Sousa
    • 4
  • Osvaldo Dias Lopes da Silva
    • 4
  1. 1.University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL), CIS-IULLisboaPortugal
  2. 2.Centro de Investigação em Ciência Psicológica, Faculdade de PsicologiaUniversidade de LisboaPortugal
  3. 3.University of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  4. 4.University of The Azores, CEEAplAPonta DelgadaPortugal

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