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Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Wendy L. Kliewer


Current treatments of parent-adolescent conflict and autonomy development neglect the active role adolescents can play in managing conflict. The present study tests a conceptual model based on developmental theory. Dating is postulated as a salient source of conflict for parents and middle adolescents. Adolescents will utilize cognitive strategies to achieve dating-related goals. These strategies include both neutral (talking and selective disclosure) and negative (lying and using friends to cover for you) forms of filtering information parents receive in order to achieve their dating-related goals. General developmental and domain-specific factors were postulated to directly affect as well as moderate the effects of this selective sharing of information on conflict frequency and intensity. These moderators included intrapersonal (desire for autonomy and importance of boy/girlfriend) and dyadic (cohesion and dating rule satisfaction) factors.

This model was tested with a diverse sample of 325 10th and 12th graders attending public high schools in suburban and rural settings. Only adolescents in current dating relationships were included. Results provide support for the conceptualization of adolescents as active managers of conflict. The degree to which adolescents filter information about dating in order to achieve their dating-related goals affects both the frequency and intensity of conflict. However, intrapersonal and dyadic variables moderate these effects. The proposed set of predictors accounted for as much as 40% of the variance in intensity of dating-related conflict, and as little as 28 percent of the variance in the frequency of general conflict. The importance of developmentally-relevant, domain-specific measurement of conflict was demonstrated. The significant grade and gender interactions with the variables in the model suggest the importance of examining developmental and socialization influences on conflict processes.


Scanned, with permission from the author, from the original print version, which resides in University Archives.


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