Emergence of normative beliefs legitimizing antisocial behaviour in adolescents : the roles of monitoring, attachment, and temperament /
Kennedy, Richard E.
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Beliefs about the rightness or wrongness of engaging in various antisocial acts, referred to here as nonnative beliefs legitimizing antisocial behaviour (nblab), have been shown to playa role in the emergence oflater antisocial behaviour. The current study represented an attempt to understand whether parental monitoring and parent-child attachment have differential relationships with these antisocial nonnative beliefs in adolescents of different temperaments. The participants, 7135 adolescents in 25 high schools (ages 10- 18 years, M = 15.7) completed a wide-ranging questionnaire as part of the broad Youth Lifestyle Choices - Community University Research Alliance project, whose goal is to identify and describe the major developmental pathways of risk behaviours and resilience in youth. Two aspects of monitoring (monitoring knowledge and surveillance/tracking), attachment security, and two measures of temperament (activity level and approach) were examined for main effects and in interactions as predictors of adolescent nonnative beliefs. All of these measures were based on adolescent self-ratings on either 3- or 4-point Likert-type scales. Several important results emerged from the study. Males were higher than females in nblab; parental monitoring knowledge and adolescent attachment security were negatively related to nblab; and temperamental activity level was positively related. Monitoring knowledge, the strongest of the predictors, was much more strongly related to nonnative beliefs than was parental surveillance/tracking, supporting the contention that it is how much parents actually know, and not their surveillance efforts, that predict adolescent nonnative beliefs. A surprising finding that is of the utmost importance was that, although several of the interactions tested were significant, none were considered to be of a meaningful magnitude (defined as sr^ > .01). The current study supported the suggestion that normative beliefs legitimizing antisocial behaviour are multiply determined, and the results were discussed with respect to the observed differential relations of parental monitoring, parent-child attachment, temperament, age, and gender to antisocial normative beliefs in adolescents. Also discussed were the need to test other parenting, temperament, and other variables that may be involved in the development of nblab; the need to directly test possible mechanisms explaining the links among the variables; and the usefulness of longitudinal research in determining possible directions of causality and developmental changes in the relationships.