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Perceived appropriateness and accurate perception of parental messages as predictors of adolescents\u27 internalization of values and behaviors

By Laura M Padilla-Walker


The current study examined a reconceptualization of the process of values internalization by evaluating adolescents\u27 ratings of appropriateness of parental reactions, accurate perception of parental messages and acceptance of parental messages as predictors of adolescents\u27 internalization of values and prosocial and antisocial behaviors. The current study provided adolescents with hypothetical vignettes and then asked them to think of similar real-life situations they had with their parent. Based on adolescents\u27 reports of these interactions, the current study assessed adolescents\u27 perceptions of the parent-child interaction (e.g., parental reaction, adolescent emotion, parental intent) in both prosocial and antisocial situations. One hundred and fifty-one mother-adolescent dyads participated in the study (M age of adolescent = 16.34 years, 51% female). Path analyses suggested that adolescents who perceived parental reactions as appropriate were more likely to accurately perceive parental values messages (i.e., had perceptions of parental values that were similar to parents\u27 self-reported values). Adolescents who accurately perceived parental messages were more likely to accept parental messages (i.e., have values that were congruent with parental values). Appropriateness of parental reactions and acceptance of parental messages were both direct predictors of adolescents\u27 internalization of moral values of honesty and kindness. And finally, adolescents with higher levels of internalization engaged in more prosocial behaviors and fewer antisocial behaviors. The process of values internalization differed as a function of context: perceived parental reactions (power assertion, induction) in prosocial situations played an important role in predicting internalization of values, while positive parental intent (adolescents\u27 perceptions of parents as well-intentioned) in antisocial situations played an important role in internalization of values. Overall, this study adds to existing literature by providing empirical support for current theory on internalization of values, suggesting important distinctions from existing models, and placing emphasis on the importance of the prosocial socialization context

Topics: Developmental psychology
Publisher: DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Year: 2005
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