Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 140–151 | Cite as

Relations between Parent Psychological Control and Parent and Adolescent Social Aggression

  • Diana J. MeterEmail author
  • Samuel E. Ehrenreich
  • Marion K. Underwood
Original Paper


Parent-child interactions and parenting behavior may be related to social aggression among adolescents, and adolescents’ social aggression may relate to parents’ social aggression. This study investigated (a) whether parent psychological control predicted future adolescent and parent social aggression in their own peer relationships, (b) whether parents’ social aggression was related to their use of psychological control within the parent-adolescent relationship (c) whether adolescents’ and parents’ social aggression was associated with changes in each other’s social aggression over time, and (d) change in psychological control. Participants were 174 racially/ethnically diverse parent-adolescent dyads assessed longitudinally for four years. Adolescents were approximately 15-years-old at the first time point. The adolescent sample was 52% girls and 56% identified as White, 22% as Black or African American, 16% as Hispanic, and 5% as mixed race/ethnicity. Ten percent of the parent participants were fathers. Parents self-reported their psychological control and social aggression, and their adolescents’ teachers reported adolescents’ social aggression. Hypotheses were tested using longitudinal structural equation modeling and a latent growth curve analysis. The hypothesized effect of parent’s psychological control on parent’s future aggression with their own peers was supported. Psychological control positively predicted parent aggression from T2 to T3 (β = .28, p< .05) and from T3 to T4 (β = .37, p < .05). Other hypotheses were not supported. The findings suggest that the parent-child relationship may influence the parent’s functioning in their own peer relationships. Parents’ peer relations seem to have important implications for their own wellbeing and the parent-child relationship.


Aggression Parents Adolescents Psychological control Longitudinal 



We gratefully acknowledge the support of the children and families who participated in this research, an outstanding local school system that wishes to be unnamed, a talented team of undergraduate research assistants, and NIH grants R01 MH63076, K02 MH073616, R56 MH63076, and R01 HD060995. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Author Contributions

DJM conducted the analyses and wrote the majority of the paper. SEE: collected the data and wrote portions of the introduction, methods, and discussion sections. MKU: was the principal investigator on all grants supporting this project, developed the project, collected the data, and collaborated on the writing and editing of the final manuscript.


This study was funded by National Institutes of Health grants R01 MH63076, K02 MH073616, R56 MH63076, and R01 HD060995. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Texas at Dallas Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana J. Meter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samuel E. Ehrenreich
    • 2
  • Marion K. Underwood
    • 3
  1. 1.Utah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.University of Nevada RenoRenoUSA
  3. 3.University of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

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