Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 207–220 | Cite as

An Examination of the Reciprocal Relationships Between Adolescents’ Aggressive Behaviors and Their Perceptions of Parental Nurturance

  • Rübab G. Arım
  • V. Susan Dahinten
  • Sheila K. Marshall
  • Jennifer D. Shapka
Empirical Research


This study examined reciprocal relationships between adolescents’ perceptions of parental nurturance and two types of adolescent aggressive behaviors (indirect and direct aggression) using a transactional model. Three waves of longitudinal data were drawn from the Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. The sample included 1,416 (735 female) adolescents who were 10- and 11-year-olds at Time 1 and became 14-and 15-year-olds at Time 3. The findings failed to support reciprocal effects, but confirmed parental effects at different ages for girls and boys. For girls, perceptions of parental nurturance at age 10 were negatively associated with both indirect and direct aggression at age 12. For boys, perceptions of parental nurturance at age 12 were negatively associated with both aggressive behaviors at age 14. Future research should continue to investigate reciprocal effects in parent-adolescent relationships to identify developmental periods where the effect of adolescents’ or their parents’ behavior may be stronger.


Adolescence Aggressive behavior Parental nurturance Reciprocal Transactional model 



The authors acknowledge the support given to Rübab G. Arım through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) doctoral fellowship and SSHRC- Initiative on the New Economy (INE) funding.


  1. Albrecht, A. K., Galambos, N. L., & Jansson, S. M. (2007). Adolescents’ internalizing and aggressive behaviors and perceptions of parents’ psychological control: A panel study examining direction of effects. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 673–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, J. P., & Land, D. (1999). Attachment in adolescence. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment theory and research. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  3. Anderson, J. C., & Gerbing, D. W. (1988). Structural equation modeling in practice: A review and recommended two-step approach. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 411–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arim, R. G., Shapka, J. D., Dahinten, V. S., & Willms, J. D. (2007). Patterns and correlates of pubertal development in Canadian youth: Effects of family context. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 98, 91–96.Google Scholar
  5. Bell, R. Q., & Chapman, M. (1986). Child effects in studies using experimental or brief longitudinal approaches to socialization. Developmental Psychology, 22, 595–603.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bentler, P. (1990). Comparative fit indices in structural models. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 238–246.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Björkqvist, K., Lagerspetz, K. M. J., & Kaukiainen, A. (1992a). Do girls manipulate and boys fight? Developmental trends regarding direct and indirect aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 18, 117–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Björkqvist, K., Lagerspetz, K. M. J., & Österman, K. (1992b). The direct and indirect aggression scales. Vasa, Finland: Abo Akademi University, Department of Social Sciences.Google Scholar
  9. Booth, C. A., Rose-Krasnor, L., McKinnon, J., & Rubin, K. H. (1994). Predicting social adjustment in middle childhood: The role of preschool attachment security and maternal style—from family to peer group: Relations between relationship systems [special issue]. Social Development, 3, 189–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss: Vol. 1: Attachment. London: The Hogarth Press and The Institute of Psycho-Analysis.Google Scholar
  11. Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: Clinical applications of attachment theory. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Brunk, M. A., & Henggeler, S. W. (1984). Child influences on adult controls: An experimental investigation. Developmental Psychology, 20, 1074–1081.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Burke, J. D., Pardini, D. A., & Loeber, R. (2008). Reciprocal relationships between parenting behavior and disruptive psychopathology from childhood through adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 679–692.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Burt, S. A., McGue, M., Iacono, W. G., & Krueger, R. F. (2006). Differential parent-child relationships and adolescent externalizing symptoms: Cross-lagged analyses within a monozygotic twin differences design. Developmental Psychology, 42, 1289–1298.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Card, N. A., Stucky, B. D., Sawalani, G. M., & Little, T. D. (2008). Direct and indirect aggression during childhood and adolescence: A meta-analytic review of gender differences, intercorrelations, and relations to maladjustment. Child Development, 79, 1185–1229.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Caspi, A., & Moffitt, T. E. (1991). Individual differences are accentuated during periods of social change: The sample case of girls at puberty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 157–168.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Cillessen, A. H. N., & Borch, C. (2006). Developmental trajectories of adolescent popularity: A growth curve modelling analysis. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 935–959.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Collins, W. A., & Laursen, B. (2004). Changing relationships, changing youth: Interpersonal contexts of adolescent development. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 24, 55–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Collins, W. A., Maccoby, E. E., Steinberg, L., Hetherington, E. M., & Bornstein, M. H. (2000). Contemporary research on parenting: The case for nature and nurture. American Psychologist, 55, 218–232.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66, 710–722.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Dishion, T. J., & Bullock, B. B. M. (2002). Parenting and adolescent problem behavior: An ecological analysis of the nurturance hypothesis. In J. G. Borkowski & S. Landesman Ramey (Eds.), Parenting and the child’s world: Influences on academic, intellectual, and social-emotional development (pp. 231–249). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  22. DiStefano, C. (2002). The impact of categorization with confirmatory factor analysis. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 9, 327–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dodge, K. A., Coie, J. D., & Lynam, D. (2006). Aggression and antisocial behavior in youth. In E. M. Hetherington (Ed.), W. Damon, & R. M. Lerner (Series Eds.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 3. Social, emotional, and personality development (6th ed., pp. 719–788). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  24. Eccles, J. S., Midgley, C., Wigfield, A., Buchanan, C. M., Reuman, D., Flanagan, C., et al. (1993). Development during adolescence: The impact of stage-environment fit on adolescents’ experiences in schools and families. American Psychologist, 48, 90–101.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Fechner, P. Y. (2003). The biology of puberty: New developments in sex differences. In C. Hayward (Ed.), Gender differences at puberty (pp. 17–28). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Galen, B. R., & Underwood, M. K. (1997). A developmental investigation of social aggression among children. Developmental Psychology, 33, 589–600.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Gershoff, E. T. (2002). Parental corporal punishment and associated child behaviors and experiences: A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 539–579.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Gollob, H. F., & Reichardt, C. S. (1987). Taking account of time lags in causal models. Child Development, 58, 80–92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Guilley, W., & Uhlig, G. (1993). Factor analysis and ordinal data. Education, 114, 258–264.Google Scholar
  30. Gutman, L. M., & Eccles, J. S. (2007). Stage-environment fit during adolescence: Trajectories of family relations and adolescent outcomes. Developmental Psychology, 43, 522–537.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Hipwell, A., Keenan, K., Kasza, K., Loeber, R., Stouthamer-Loeber, M., & Bean, T. (2008). Reciprocal influences between girls’ conduct problems and depression, and parental punishment and warmth: A six year prospective analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 663–677.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Hoyle, R. H. (2007). Applications of structural equation modeling in personaliy research. In R. W. Robins, R. C. Fraley, & R. F. Krueger (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in personality research (pp. 444–460). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  33. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jang, S. J., & Smith, C. A. (1997). A test of reciprocal causal relationships among parental supervision, affective ties, and delinquency. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 34, 307–336.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jöreskog, K. G. (2002). Structural equation modeling with ordinal variables using LISREL. Retrieved August 3, 2008 from
  36. Jöreskog, K. G., & Sörbom, D. (2001). LISREL 8 user’s reference guide. Lincolnwood, IL: Scientific Software International.Google Scholar
  37. Jöreskog, K. G., & Sörbom, D. (2006a). LISREL 8.80 for Windows [Computer Software]. Lincolnwood, IL: Scientific Software International.Google Scholar
  38. Jöreskog, K. G., & Sörbom, D. (2006b). PRELIS 2.80 for Windows [Computer Software]. Lincolnwood, IL: Scientific Software International.Google Scholar
  39. Kerr, M., & Stattin, H. (2003). Parenting of adolescents: Action or reaction? In A. C. Crouter & A. Booth (Eds.), Children’s influence on family dynamics: The neglected side of family relationships (pp. 121–152). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  40. Lagerspetz, K. M. J., Björkqvist, K., & Peltonen, T. (1988). Is indirect aggression typical of females? Gender differences in aggressiveness in 11- to 12-year-old children. Aggressive Behavior, 14, 403–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Laird, R. D., Pettit, G. S., Bates, J. E., & Dodge, K. A. (2003). Parents’ monitoring-relevant knowledge and adolescents’ delinquent behavior: Evidence of correlated developmental changes and reciprocal influences. Child Development, 74, 752–768.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Lempers, J. D., Clark-Lempers, D., & Simons, R. L. (1989). Economic hardship, parenting, and distress. Child Development, 60, 25–39.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Maccoby, E. E. (2002). Parenting effects: Issues and controversies. In J. G. Borkowski, S. L. Ramey, & M. Bristol-Power (Eds.), Parenting and the child’s world: Influences on academic, intellectual, and social-emotional development (pp. 35–46). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  44. Maccoby, E. E., & Martin, J. A. (1983). Socialization in the context of the family: Parent-child interaction. In P. H. Mussen (Series Ed.) & E. M. Hetherington (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 4: Socialization, personality, and social development (4th ed., pp. 1–101). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  45. Magnusson, D. M. (1988). Individual development from an interactional perspective: A longitudinal study. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  46. Michiels, D., Grietens, H., Onghena, P., & Kuppens, S. (2008). Parent-child interactions and relational aggression in peer relationships. Developmental Review, 28, 522–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Moretti, M. M., & Peled, M. (2004). Adolescent-parent attachment: Bonds that support healthy development. Pediatrics & Child Health, 9, 551–555.Google Scholar
  48. Mrug, S., Elliott, M., Gilliland, M. J., Grunbaum, J. A., Tortolero, S. R., Cuccaro, P., et al. (2008). Positive parenting and early puberty in girls: Protective effects against aggressive behavior. Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 162, 781–786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. O’Leary, S. G., Smith-Slep, A. M., & Reid, M. J. (1999). A longitudinal study of mothers’ overreactive discipline and toddlers’ externalizing behavior. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 27, 331–341.Google Scholar
  50. Offord, D. R., Boyle, M. H., Fleming, J. E., Blum, H. M., & Grant, N. I. (1989). Ontario Child Health Study: Summary of selected results. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 34, 483–491.Google Scholar
  51. Österman, K., Björkqvist, K., Lagerspetz, K. M. J., Kaukianinen, A., Huesmann, L. R., & Fraczek, A. (1994). Peer and self-estimated aggression and victimization in 8-year-old children from five ethnic groups. Aggressive Behavior, 20, 411–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pardini, D. A., Fite, P. J., & Burke, J. D. (2008). Bidirectional associations between parenting practices and conduct problems in boys from childhood to adolescence: The moderating effect of age and African-American ethnicity. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 647–662.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Pepler, D. J., Walsh, M. M., & Levene, K. S. (2004). Interventions for aggressive girls: Tailoring and measuring the fit. In M. M. Moretti, C. L. Odgers, & M. A. Jackson (Eds.), Girls and aggression: Contributing factors and intervention principles (pp. 131–145). New York: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  54. Prinzie, P., Onghena, P., & Hellinckx, W. (2006). A cohort-sequential multivariate latent growth curve analysis of normative CBCL aggressive and delinquent problem behavior: Associations with harsh discipline and gender. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 30, 444–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Reid, J. B., Patterson, G. R., & Synder, J. (Eds.). (2000). Antisocial behavior in children and adolescents: A developmental analysis and model for intervention. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  56. Reitz, E., Deković, M., Meijer, A. M., & Engels, R. C. M. E. (2006). Longitudinal relations among parenting, best friends, and early adolescent problem behavior: Testing bidirectional effects. Journal of Early Adolescence, 26, 272–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sameroff, A. J., & MacKenzie, M. J. (2003). Research strategies for capturing transactional models of development: The limits of the possible. Development and Psychopathology, 15, 613–640.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Satorra, A., & Bentler, P. M. (1994). Corrections to test statistics and standard errors in covariance structure analysis. In A. Von Eye & C. C. Clogg (Eds.), Latent variable analysis: Applications for developmental research (pp. 399–419). Thousands Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  59. Sears, R. R. (1951). A theoretical framework for personality and social behavior. American Psychologist, 6, 476–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Statistics Canada, & Human Resources Development. (1995). The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth: New and improved documentation. Ottawa, ON, Canada: Minister of Industry.Google Scholar
  61. Statistics Canada, & Human Resources Development. (1998). The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth: Cycle 3 user guide. Ottawa, ON, Canada: Minister of Industry.Google Scholar
  62. Steiger, J. H. (2000). Point estimation, hypothesis testing, and interval estimation using the RMSEA: Some comments and a reply to Hayduk and Glaser. Structural Equation Modeling, 7, 149–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Stice, E., & Barrera, M., Jr. (1995). A longitudinal examination of the reciprocal relations between perceived parenting and adolescents’ substance use and externalizing behaviors. Developmental Psychology, 31, 322–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Susman, E. J., & Rogol, A. (2004). Puberty and psychological development. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (2nd ed., pp. 15–44). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
  65. Tremblay, R. E., Pihl, R. O., Vitaro, F., & Dobkin, P. L. (1994). Predicting early onset of male antisocial behavior from preschool behavior. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51, 732–738.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. Werner, N. E., Senich, S., & Przepyszny, K. A. (2006). Mothers’ responses to preschoolers’ relational and physical aggression. Applied Developmental Psychology, 27, 193–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Yoon, J., Hughes, J., Gaur, A., & Thompson, B. (1999). Social cognition in aggressive children: A metaanalytic review. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 6, 320–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zumbo, B. D., Gadermann, A. M., & Zeisser, C. (2007). Ordinal versions of coefficient alphas and theta for Likert rating scales. Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods, 6, 21–29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rübab G. Arım
    • 1
  • V. Susan Dahinten
    • 2
  • Sheila K. Marshall
    • 3
  • Jennifer D. Shapka
    • 4
  1. 1.Ottawa Hospital Research InstituteUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.School of NursingUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.School of Social WorkUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special EducationUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

Personalised recommendations