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Dev Psychol. 2007 Jul;43(4):991-1002.

Evaluative pressure in mothers: effects of situation, maternal, and child characteristics on autonomy supportive versus controlling behavior.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Clark University, Worcester, MA 01610, USA.


This study examined the effects of situational pressure and maternal characteristics (social contingent self-worth, controlling parenting attitudes) on mothers' autonomy support versus control in the social domain. Sixty 4th-grade children and their mothers worked on a laboratory task in preparation for meeting new children, with mothers in either an evaluation (mothers told their child would be evaluated by other children) or no-evaluation (no mention of evaluation) condition. Mothers in the evaluation condition spent more time giving answers to their children. Mothers with controlling parenting attitudes exhibited more controlling behavior. Further, mothers with high social contingent self-worth in the evaluation condition were most controlling. Results suggest the importance of interactions between situations and maternal characteristics in determining levels of mothers' autonomy support versus control and have implications for helping parents support children's autonomy.

Copyright 2007 APA.

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