Date of Award

5-12-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Gabriel P. Kuperminc, Ph.D. - Chair

Second Advisor

Sarah L. Cook, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Lisa Armistead, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Julia Perilla, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

David C. Tate, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study examined autonomy and relatedness in mother adolescent interactions as longitudinal predictors of adolescent involvement in dating aggression. Research indicates that dating aggression, defined as perpetration and/or victimization of physical, psychological, or sexual aggression, affects one-third to two-thirds of adolescents. Most studies of adolescent dating aggression have been cross-sectional, have lacked a developmental theoretical perspective, and have not adequately investigated contextual differences in dating aggression. This study adds to the existing literature in that it applies a developmental framework to a multi-method, longitudinal study (n=88) of adolescent dating aggression. Adolescents’ and their mothers’ demonstrations of support for and inhibition of autonomy and relatedness during a coded interaction task observed when adolescents were 16 years old were examined as predictors of adolescents’ reports of perpetration and victimization of physical and psychological aggression two years later, exploring gender, race/ethnicity, and environmental risk as moderators. It was expected that promotion of autonomy and relatedness would be negatively related to adolescent reports of involvement in dating aggression, whereas inhibition of autonomy and relatedness would be positively related to adolescent reports of dating aggression. Hierarchical multiple regressions revealed that, as expected, maternal inhibition of relatedness predicted slight increases in reports of psychological perpetration and victimization. However, maternal support for autonomy was related to increases in perpetration of psychological aggression for all adolescents and increases in perpetration and victimization of physical aggression for girls, but not boys. Adolescent support for autonomy was related to increases in perpetration of physical aggression only for environmentally at-risk teens and to increases in psychological perpetration for racial/ethnic minority participants, but not for Caucasians. It was also found that girls reported more physical and psychological perpetration than boys, and that racial/ethnic minority participants reported more physical perpetration than Caucasians. Results indicate that autonomy is a dynamic developmental process that operates differently as a function of the various ecological contexts in which adolescents live, as marked by gender, race/ethnicity, and risk, in predicting adolescent involvement in dating aggression.

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Psychology Commons

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