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The construct of autonomy has a rich, though quite controversial, history in adolescent psychology. The present investigation aimed to clarify the meaning and measurement of adolescent autonomy in the family. Based on theory and previous research, we examined whether two dimensions would underlie a wide range of autonomy-related measures, using data from two adolescent samples (N = 707, 51 % girls, and N = 783, 59 % girls, age range = 14–21 years). Clear evidence was found for a two-dimensional structure, with the first dimension reflecting “volition versus pressure”, that is, the degree to which adolescents experience a sense of volition and choice as opposed to feelings of pressure and coercion in the parent–adolescent relationship. The second dimension reflected “distance versus proximity”, which involves the degree of interpersonal distance in the parent-adolescent relationship. Whereas volition related to higher well-being, less problem behavior and a secure attachment style, distance was associated mainly with more problem behavior and an avoidant attachment style. These associations were not moderated by age. The discussion focuses on the meaning of adolescent autonomy and on the broader implications of the current findings.
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- The Jingle–Jangle Fallacy in Adolescent Autonomy in the Family: In Search of an Underlying Structure
Stijn Van Petegem
- Springer US