Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 45, Issue 10, pp 2151–2163 | Cite as

Maternal Psychological Control and Its Association with Mother and Child Perceptions of Adolescent Adjustment: More Evidence on the Strength of Shared Perspectives

  • Olivia M. Valdes
  • Brett Laursen
  • Fanny A. Guimond
  • Amy C. Hartl
  • Jill Denner
Empirical Research


Mothers and adolescents hold distinct albeit correlated views of their relationship and of one another. The present study focuses on disentangling these independent views. Concurrent associations between maternal psychological control and children’s adjustment are examined at two time points in order to identify the degree to which associations reflect (a) views that are shared by mothers and adolescents, and (b) views that are unique to mothers and adolescents. A total of 123 (56 % female) U.S. Latino/a adolescents (M = 10.4 years old at the outset) and their mothers reported on maternal psychological control, children’s conduct problems, and children’s anxiety, twice within a 5-month period. Data were collected at the close of primary school when the adolescents were in grade 5 and again at the beginning of middle school, when they were in grade 6. Results from conventional correlations indicated that mother- and adolescent-reports yielded similar associations between maternal psychological control and adolescent adjustment. Common fate model analyses partitioned results into variance shared across mother and adolescent reports and variance unique to mother and adolescent reports. Results differed for anxiety and conduct problems. Shared views indicated that greater maternal psychological control was associated with heightened child conduct problems; there were no associations unique to either reporter. In contrast, unique reporter views indicated that greater maternal psychological control was associated with child anxiety; there were no associations involving shared views. Although mother- and adolescent-reports agree that maternal psychological control is correlated with children’s adjustment, there is considerable divergence in results when associations are partitioned according to shared and unique reporter views. Associations between maternal psychological control and children’s anxiety are more apt to be inflated by same-reporter variance bias than are associations between maternal psychological control and children’s conduct problems.


Common fate model Dyadic analysis Psychological control Adolescent adjustment 



The authors would like to thank our research team (Eloy Ortiz, Yethzéll Díaz, Seow Ling Ong, Giselle Padilla, Sylvia Reyes, and Gina Lepore), the children and mothers who participated, and the teachers and school staff who assisted with recruitment. Todd Little provided helpful comments on an initial draft.

Author Contributions

OV performed the statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript; BL conceived of the study, interpreted the data, critically revised the manuscript, and was co-PI on the funded grant; FG participated in the statistical analyses and helped draft the manuscript; AH was involved in the concept and design of the study and helped draft the manuscript; JD participated in the design and supervised the collection of the data, and was PI on the funded grant of the study. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This project was supported by a grant to Jill Denner and Brett Laursen from the U.S. National Science Foundation (1248598). Brett Laursen also received support from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD068421).

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

Data for the MATH PATHWAYS study were collected in a manner consistent with the ethical guidelines of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Research in Child Development. The project received local IRB approval.

Informed Consent

All measurements were carried out with their adequate understanding and written consent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  2. 2.ETR AssociatesScotts ValleyUSA

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