Mother–Adolescent Conflict Types and Adolescent Adjustment: A Person-Oriented Analysis

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Abstract

This investigation was designed to identify dyadic differences in mother–adolescent conflict. In 2 studies (N = 131 and N = 147), adolescents (M = 13.88 and 14.65 years old) described the number of disagreements with mothers during the previous (1 or 3) days, their affective intensity, and perceptions of negativity in the relationship. Cluster analyses yielded 3 unique groups that replicated across studies: (a) placid dyads (50% of Study 1 participants and 36% of Study 2 participants), notable for low disagreement affective intensity and low relationship negativity; (b) explosive dyads (25% of Study 1 participants and 31% of Study 2 participants), notable for high affective intensity; and (c) squabbling dyads (25% of Study 1 participants and 33% of Study 2 participants), notable for frequent conflict. Longitudinal analyses revealed that cluster group membership was stable from 1 year to the next. Follow-up analyses indicated that adolescents in placid dyads had lower levels of internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors than those in the explosive or squabbling dyads, concurrently and prospectively.

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