Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Paula J. Fite

Committee Members

Brian K. Barber, Jenny Macfie, Deborah P. Welsh

Abstract

The current project examined two competing models investigating the role of child relational aggression and friendship quality in the association between parental psychological control and child internalizing symptomology. An at-risk sample of predominantly minority children (n = 132, 55% male, 86% minority) ranging from 5 to 14 years of age (M = 8.83, SD = 2.43), recruited from a Knoxville, Tennessee area Boys and Girls Club was used to examine the proposed construct relations. Interaction terms between study variables and gender and age were also examined. All structural equation models yielded a poor fit to the data. Multiple regression analyses were then employed in post hoc analyses to examine moderated and mediated pathways in a step back approach. Results indicated that relational aggression partially mediated the association between parental psychological control and internalizing symptoms. Furthermore, friendship quality was found to strengthen the associations between paternal psychological control and child internalizing symptoms and between paternal psychological control and relational aggression. Additional analyses were conducted to determine the moderating effect of age and gender. For older children, friendship quality exacerbated the association between maternal psychological control and relational aggression, but for younger children, friendship quality demonstrated a buffering effect in the association between maternal psychological control and relational aggression. Limitations along with future directions are discussed.

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