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Parental Psychological Control and Adolescent Problematic Outcomes: A Multidimensional Approach

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Abstract

Objectives

Parental psychological control is an emotionally manipulative parenting behavior that involves the use of tactics such as love withdrawal, guilt induction, and conditional approval and has been found to be particularly problematic for adolescent development. However, research has not yet examined whether psychological control is also best measured as a multidimensional construct during adolescence or whether various dimensions of psychological control are differentially predictive of adolescents’ problematic outcomes. Therefore, the current study examined the factor structure of a measure commonly used to assess psychological control, the Psychological Control Scale—Youth Self-Report. Additionally, the current study examined whether specific dimensions of psychological control are differentially associated with adolescents’ problematic outcomes, including over- and under-eating behaviors, risky cyber behaviors, substance use, and depressive symptoms.

Methods

Participants included 161 adolescents (Mage = 14.42, SD = 1.73; 80.7% Caucasian; 59.6% female) living in a University city in a Mid-Atlantic state. Participants completed survey questionnaires about parental psychological control, problematic eating behaviors, risky cyber behaviors, substance use, and depressive symptoms.

Results

Results indicated that psychological control is comprised of three distinct factors, including personal attack, invalidating feelings, and love withdrawal, which were uniquely associated with adolescents’ problematic outcomes.

Conclusions

The findings provide insights into more precise ways to examine the association between psychological control and problematic outcomes and highlight which aspects of psychological control are important for specific problematic outcomes among adolescents.

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Author Contributions

KR: conceived of the study, conducted data analyses, and wrote the introduction, results, and discussion sections of the paper. AM: made substantial intellectual and conceptual contributions to the design of the project, collaborated with the writing of the paper, and edited the final manuscript. LA: aided KR with statistical analyses and wrote the methods section of the paper.

Funding

This research was supported via internal funding through West Virginia University.

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Correspondence to Katelyn F. Romm.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The current study was approved by the Institutional Review Board for West Virginia University. In conducting this research, the accepted principles of ethical and professional conduct have been followed.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. All participating youth gave informed consent prior to their participation. In addition, parental permission and consent was obtained from the parents of all youth under 18 years of age.

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Romm, K.F., Metzger, A. & Alvis, L.M. Parental Psychological Control and Adolescent Problematic Outcomes: A Multidimensional Approach. J Child Fam Stud 29, 195–207 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01545-y

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