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Dev Psychol. 2007 May;43(3):633-46.

Conceptualizing parental autonomy support: adolescent perceptions of promotion of independence versus promotion of volitional functioning.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


In current research on parenting, 2 ways of conceptualizing perceived parental autonomy support can be distinguished. Parental autonomy support can be defined in terms of promotion of independence (PI) or in terms of promotion of volitional functioning (PVF). This study aimed to establish the empirical distinctiveness of both conceptualizations and to examine their relative contribution to the prediction of adolescents' adjustment. The authors conducted 3 studies, 2 which sampled late adolescents (N=396, mean age=18.70 years, 79% female; and N=495, mean age=19.30 years, 74% female, respectively) and 1 which sampled middle adolescents (N=153, mean age=15.12 years, 70% female). Factor analyses pointed to the distinction between perceived PVF and PI. Structural equation modeling (SEM) indicated that whereas perceived PVF uniquely predicted adjustment (ps<.01), perceived PI did not (ps>.05). SEM also demonstrated that adolescents' self-determined functioning significantly mediates the relationship between perceived parental PVF and adjustment (ps<.001). Results are discussed in terms of the type of autonomy that parents might want to facilitate among their adolescents to foster well-being.

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