Relation of temperament and authoritative parenting on subtypes of adolescent behaviour
Reker, Dana L.
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Over the years, researchers have investigated direct, conditional, and meditational pathways of adolescent aggression in relation to both temperament and parenting behaviours. However, no study to date has considered these relations with respect to a measure of aggression differentiated by form (e.g., overt, relational) and function (e.g., proactive, reactive). The present study examined the differential association of adolescent temperament and authoritative parenting on four subtypes of aggression. Participants included mothers, fathers, and one adolescent (between the ages of 10-19) from 663 families, recruited through random digit dialing. Parents reported on their child's temperament and occurrence of aggressive behaviours in addition to the perception of their own authoritative parenting. Adolescents reported on their own temperament and aggressive behaviours as well as on both their mother and father's authoritative parenting. Multiple regression analyses confirmed predictions that some aspects of temperament and authoritative parenting provide motivation towards the engagement of different aggressive behaviours. For example, higher negative affect was related to reactive types of aggression, whereas a strong desire for novel or risky behaviours related to proactive aggression. However, differences in effortful control altered the trajectory for both relationships. Higher levels of self-regulation reduced the impact of negative affect on reactive-overt aggression. Greater self-regulation also reduced the impact of surgency on proactive-overt aggression when age was a factor. Structural equation modeling was then used to assess the process through which adolescents become more or less susceptible to impulsive behaviours. Although the issue ofbi-directionality cannot be ruled out, temperament characteristics were the proximal correlate for aggression subtypes as opposed to authoritative parenting dimensions. Effortful control was found to partially mediate the relation between parental acceptancelinvolvement and reactive-relational and reactive-overt aggression, suggesting that higher levels of warmth and support as perceived by the child related to increased levels of self-regulation and emotional control, which in tum lead to less reactive-relational and less reactive-overt types of aggression in adolescents. On the other hand, negative affect partially mediated the relation between parental psychological autonomy granting and these two subtypes of aggression, supporting predictions that higher levels of autonomy granting (perceived independence) related to lower levels of frustration, which in tum lead to less reactive-relational and reactive-overt aggression in adolescents. Both findings provide less evidence for the evocative person-environment correlation and more support for temperament being an open system shaped by experience and authoritative parenting dimensions. As one of the first known studies examining the differential association of authoritative parenting and temperament on aggression subtypes, this study demonstrates the role parents can play in shaping and altering their children's temperament and the effects it can have on aggressive behaviour.