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09-09-2016 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 5/2017

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 5/2017

When Do Adolescents Accept or Defy to Maternal Prohibitions? The Role of Social Domain and Communication Style

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 5/2017
Stijn Van Petegem, Maarten Vansteenkiste, Bart Soenens, Grégoire Zimmermann, Jean-Philippe Antonietti, Sophie Baudat, Elien Audenaert


Drawing upon both Social-Cognitive Domain Theory and Self-Determination Theory, the goal of the present multi-informant study was to test whether the correlates of maternal prohibitions depend on what is prohibited (i.e., the content of the social domain involved), thereby contrasting moral with friendship prohibitions, as well on how the prohibition is communicated, thereby contrasting an autonomy-supportive with a controlling communication style. In a sample of adolescents (N = 196; mean age = 13.9 years; 63 % female) and their mothers (N = 185; mean age = 44 years), we first examined mean-level differences between the two domains in terms of mothers’ degree and style of prohibition, as well as on a number of developmental outcomes (i.e., adolescents’ legitimacy perceptions, internalization, and oppositional defiance). Both adolescents and mothers reported more maternal involvement in the moral domain (e.g., higher scores for degree of prohibition and controlling communication style). In addition, adolescents reported greater perceived legitimacy and less oppositional defiance in the moral domain (as compared to the friendships domain). Second, we tested whether associations between degree and style of prohibition and the developmental outcomes were moderated by social domain. Whereas associations between degree of prohibition and developmental outcomes either were non-significant or moderated by domain, the associations with communication style were more domain-invariant, with an autonomy-supportive style generally yielding an adaptive pattern of correlates and with a controlling style relating to maladaptive outcomes. The discussion focuses on similarities and differences in the characteristics and correlates of both types of prohibitions.

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