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The relationship of moral development to parent-child conflict in adolescence

Lopes, Rita de Cassia Sobreira; (1993) The relationship of moral development to parent-child conflict in adolescence. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The place of relationships in moral development in adolescence is controversial both in the psychoanalytic and in the cognitive-developmental theories. Within each of these theoretical frameworks, there is a tension between, on the one hand, developmental models which assume that development goes in the direction of greater depersonalization and, on the other, those which assume that it goes in the direction of greater mutuality. In this project this question is examined, in particular, in the context of parent-child relations. In Chapters IV to VI, a series of studies are reported, based on narratives of moral conflict situations. In Chapter IV, moral conflict situations described by 10–12, 14–16 and 17–21 year olds were examined for context, content and justifications offered for decisions taken in the situations. The results indicated that in all three age groups conflicts tended to be construed in the context of relationships. The most frequent context of moral dilemmas was relationships with significant others, especially parents. Age and gender differences were found both in relation to contextual and content issues. Justifications for the decisions taken mostly involved the self, self-other relationships or the other. The importance of social-interactive contexts in moral development in adolescence was further highlighted by a second study carried out with two groups of 17–21 year olds, presented in Chapter V. One group was living with parents and the second matched group was living in halls of residence. The results showed that while the group living with parents mentioned much more conflicts involving parents than the group living in halls of residence, in the latter group conflicts with peers predominated. In the third study, reported in Chapter VI, two groups were examined: 14–16 and 17–21 year olds. Subjects were asked to describe moral conflict situations involving their parents, to say how they resolved the conflict and to indicate the reason why. The results highlighted a range of conflict issues involving especially parental interference in their lives. Some differences in the use of strategies of conflict resolution were found as a function of age, gender and the situation. Greater self agency was found to coexist alongside greater mutuality in parent-child relations in late adolescence. The final study (Chapter VII) was an interview study carried out with parents and adolescents (15–16 year olds). The main aim of this study was to analyze parents' and adolescents' views on parental interference in everyday, potentially conflictual, situations. The results indicate that parental authority is not totally relinquished in adolescence, even though there are some areas of the adolescents' lives which both parents and children think should be preserved from parental interference, especially those having to do with adolescents' personal lives. The findings of the studies point to the need for a social constructivist perspective in moral development in adolescence, which accounts for both changes and continuity in self and relationships during development.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The relationship of moral development to parent-child conflict in adolescence
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Psychology; Adolescence; Moral development; Parent-child conflict
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099658
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