Parental Knowledge Discrepancies: Examining the Roles of Warmth and Self-Disclosure

  • Aryn M. DottererEmail author
  • Elizabeth Day
Empirical Research


Discrepancies between parents’ and adolescents’ reports in parental knowledge of adolescents’ daily activities and whereabouts are common and have implications for adolescents’ well-being and school success. Grounded in a family systems perspective utilizing reports from parents and adolescents, the goal of this study was to explore the extent to which parent–adolescent warmth and adolescent self-disclosure could account for discrepancies in parental knowledge by testing the indirect effects linking warmth to discrepancies in parental knowledge via adolescent self-disclosure. Participants were early adolescents (N = 172; 53% female) and their parents (90% mothers). Adolescents (57% African American/Black, 18% multiracial, 17% White/Caucasian, 7% Hispanic/Latino and 1% Asian American) attended a Midwestern, Title 1, urban, public middle school. Using structural equation modeling, findings showed that parent–adolescent warmth significantly predicted adolescent self-disclosure, which in turn predicted fewer discrepancies in parental knowledge. The findings from this study help in understanding the factors that contribute to parental knowledge discrepancies and highlight potential targets for family interventions.


Parental knowledge Reporter discrepancies Parent–adolescent dyads Parent–adolescent warmth Adolescent self-disclosure 



We would like to thank the graduate and undergraduate research assistants who helped carry out this study. We are especially indebted to the adolescents and their families whose participation made this research possible.

Author Contribution

AD conceived of the study and its design, participated in data collection, conducted statistical analyses, provided interpretation of the data, and contributed portions of the writing of this manuscript. EW contributed to the conceptualization of this study, conducted statistical analyses, provided interpretation of the data and contributed portions of the writing of this manuscript. Both authors read an approved the final version of this article.


Funding for this research was provided in part by the Purdue Research Foundation [205284] and the Kinley Trust [204589].

Data Sharing and Declaration

This manuscript’s data will not be deposited.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study involving human participants werein accordance with the ethical standards of Institutional Review Board, Human Research Protection Program at Purdue University and with the 1964 Helsinkideclaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all adult participants in the study. Informed consent for all minors participating in the study was obtained from legal guardians; minors also provided informed assent.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational ResearchCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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