Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Lauree C. Tilton-Weaver


In this study, early to middle adolescents’ perceptions and interpretations of psychological control and behavioral control were examined using quasi-experimental methods. A total of sixty-seven adolescents (M—14.25 years, SD = 1.66), consisting of 32 7th/8th graders (M= 12.69 years, SD = .69) and 35 10th/11th graders (M = 15.69 years, SD= .72) responded to hypothetical vignettes depicting everyday interactions between parents and an adolescent involving psychological versus behavioral control, manipulating the levels of control and authority domains. The adolescents were asked to indicate the degree to which the control depicted in the vignettes would indicate parental intrusiveness, their mattering to parents, and their competence. Results showed that adolescents’ perceptions and interpretations of parental control differed as a function of control type, level, and domain. High levels of behavioral and psychological control were construed as equally negative (e.g., meaning they mattered less to their parents), in contrast to perceptions of moderate levels of control. It was also found that parental control exercised in the personal domain was seen as less indicative of mattering to parents than control exerted in the prudential domain. These differences were particularly pronounced for psychological control. Furthermore, these relationships were also moderated by adolescents’ grade and gender. In comparison to younger adolescents, older adolescents were more likely to view both types of parental control as intrusive when exerted at high levels. Gender differences emerged strongly in the prudential domain, where boys were somewhat more negatively affected by high levels of psychological control than by high levels of behavioral control. In contrast, girls were more likely than boys to interpret moderate levels of behavioral control in a positive light. The discussion focused on the importance of assessing adolescents’ perceptions and interpretations of parental control and the ways in which these perceptions might mediate the relationships between parental control and adolescents’ development.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Masters of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Fumiko Kakihara November, 2006

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