Relations between Parent Psychological Control and Parent and Adolescent Social Aggression

Diana Jill Meter, Utah State University
Samuel E. Ehrenreich, University of Nevada
Marion K. Underwood, Purdue University


Parent-child interactions and parenting behavior may be related to social aggression among adolescents, and adolescents’ social aggression may relate to parents’ social aggression. This study investigated (a) whether parent psychological control predicted future adolescent and parent social aggression in their own peer relationships, (b) whether parents’ social aggression was related to their use of psychological control within the parent-adolescent relationship (c) whether adolescents’ and parents’ social aggression was associated with changes in each other’s social aggression over time, and (d) change in psychological control. Participants were 174 racially/ethnically diverse parent-adolescent dyads assessed longitudinally for four years. Adolescents were approximately 15-years-old at the first time point. The adolescent sample was 52% girls and 56% identified as White, 22% as Black or African American, 16% as Hispanic, and 5% as mixed race/ethnicity. Ten percent of the parent participants were fathers. Parents self-reported their psychological control and social aggression, and their adolescents’ teachers reported adolescents’ social aggression. Hypotheses were tested using longitudinal structural equation modeling and a latent growth curve analysis. The hypothesized effect of parent’s psychological control on parent’s future aggression with their own peers was supported. Psychological control positively predicted parent aggression from T2 to T3 (β = .28, p< .05) and from T3 to T4 (β = .37, p < .05). Other hypotheses were not supported. The findings suggest that the parent-child relationship may influence the parent’s functioning in their own peer relationships. Parents’ peer relations seem to have important implications for their own wellbeing and the parent-child relationship.