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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1990 Oct;58(5):596-603.

Adolescents' subjective distress over their emotional/behavioral problems.

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University of Vermont.


This study analyzed the relations among 151 7th- and 8th-grade adolescents' self-evaluations of the occurrence of their behavior, their own subjective distress over their behavior, their perceptions of their personal competence, their perceptions of their mothers' and fathers' distress over these behaviors, and their parents' reports of the occurrence of adolescent behaviors. As hypothesized, adolescents' self-reports of occurrence of their behaviors were significantly but moderately correlated with their subjective distress about these behaviors, and adolescents made a distinction between the occurrence of a behavior and their distress about it. Externalizing behaviors were rated by adolescents as more distressing to mothers and to fathers than to adolescents themselves, and conversely, internalizing behaviors were rated as more distressing to self than to parents. Ratings of subjective distress were significantly related to self-perceptions of behavioral conduct and self-worth, whereas parents' ratings of the occurrence of behavior were not related to these self-perceptions.

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