|Volume 1, Issue 1, 2007|
|Impact of Parenting Styles and Locus of Control on Emerging Adults' Psychosocial Success|
S. Marsiglia, Jeffrey J. Walczyk, Walter C. Buboltz, Diana A.
Louisiana Tech University, firstname.lastname@example.org
This study examines the impact of locus of control (LOC) and perceptions of parenting styles (PS) on the psychosocial success (PSS) of emerging adults (EAs). PSS was defined as the successful resolution of the tasks postulated by Erikson’s stage theory of psychosocial development (1975). The Measures of Psychosocial Development (based on Erikson’s theory; Hawley 1988), the Parental Authority Questionnaire (Buri 1991), and the Internal-External scale of Rotter (1966) were completed by 334 undergraduates (ages 18-25). Analyses revealed associations between (1) authoritative parenting and PSS, (2) maternal authoritative parenting and internal LOC, and (3) external LOC and maternal permissive and authoritarian PS. The relation between paternal PS and PSS was also moderated by LOC. Emerging adults’ PSS may be affected both directly by their perceptions of the PS they encountered earlier in life and indirectly through LOC, which may also be influenced by perceived PS.
Parental behaviors may have negative effects as well. For example, Aquilino and Supple (2001) examined the effects of parent-child relationships during adolescence on EAs’ well-being and substance abuse. They found that coercive parental control during adolescence was linked to decreased well-being and greater substance abuse during emerging adulthood.
Parenting Styles and Their Effects on Offspring
Parenthood is a multifaceted role that requires the implementation of many specific behaviors that work individually and together to influence the psychosocial success (PSS) of EAs. Over time, investigators have grouped parenting behaviors into related clusters called parenting styles (PS; Becker 1964; Dornbusch, Ritter, Leiberman, Roberts, & Fraleigh 1987; Kelly & Goodwin 1983; Steinberg et al. 1989). Baumrind (1973) defined parenting style (PS) to be a consistent pattern with which parents interact with their children along two dimensions: demandingness and responsiveness. Demandingness refers to parental efforts to integrate children into the family through maturity demands, supervision, discipline, and willingness to confront behavioral problems. Responsiveness refers to the extent to which parents foster individuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by consenting to or being aware and supportive of children’s needs and demands (Baumrind 1991). Based on the degree of responsiveness and demandingness employed by parents in rearing their children, Baumrind classified three PSs: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive.
Authoritarian parenting. Authoritarian parenting is characterized by behaviors that are highly restrictive and extremely demanding. Parents who employ this style tend to constrain children’s independence and force them to follow strict rules by threatening harsh punishment for violations. They also tend to be less responsive to and accepting of their children. By preventing children from exercising control over their own behaviors and learning from their mistakes, authoritarian parents inadvertently may be rearing children to believe that they are not responsible for what happens to them. Children and adolescents from authoritarian families tend to perform moderately well in school and to be less involved in problem behaviors than children and adolescents from permissive families, yet they have poorer social skills, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of depression than do children of authoritative parents. Compared with parents of other styles, authoritarian parents tend to rear girls who are less independent, boys who are more aggressive, and children who appear discontent and more extrinsically motivated (Ginsburg & Bronstein 1993).
Permissive parenting. Permissive parents, at the other extreme, are nonrestrictive, imposing few maturity demands and applying high levels of responsiveness. They either indulge or neglect their children's needs (Strage & Brandt, 1999). Permissive parents allow children to be self-regulated and free from rules or discipline. However, by not setting behavioral limits and goals and not holding children responsible for surpassing or falling short of those limits and goals, parents are failing to teach children that they are responsible for their own behavior. Moreover, children and adolescents from permissive families are susceptible to antisocial peer pressure (Condry & Simon 1974; Steinberg 1987). Such individuals are also more likely to be involved in problem behaviors and perform less well in school, but they have higher self-esteem, better social skills, and lower levels of depression than children raised by authoritarian parents (Strage & Brandt 1999).
Authoritative parenting. Authoritative parenting is an optimal balance of responsiveness and demandingness. Authoritative parents direct children in a rational, issue-oriented manner by explaining the reasoning behind rules. They recognize children’s individuality, encourage verbal exchange, engage children in joint decision-making, and insist that children progressively assume more responsibility for responding to the needs of other family members within the limits of their capabilities (Maccoby 1992). Additionally, they provide appropriate scaffolding for their children's learning by supporting them when tasks are difficult and by backing away when children are succeeding on their own (Pratt, Kerig, Cowan, & Cowan 1988). By allowing children to learn from their mistakes and to proceed independently when fairing well, parents may be encouraging their children’s future self-reliance.
Children of authoritative parents tend to demonstrate social and academic competence, exhibit fewer problem behaviors (Maccoby 1994), and have fewer mental health problems than children of permissive or authoritatrian parents (Baumrind 1991; Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg, & Dornbusch 1991; Steinberg 1990). Baumrind (1973) noted that such children are apt to demonstrate leadership qualities. Moreover, authoritative parenting has been associated with positive self-esteem, especially in women (Klein, O’Bryant, & Hopkins 1996).
PS has been linked to competence (Baumrind 1991) and perfectionism in college students (Flett, Hewitt, & Singer 1995). Strage and Brandt (1999) explored the effects of PS on college students' adjustment and success, finding that parents who granted autonomy by optimally balancing demandingness and support, reared children who had higher grades and better rapport with instructors. They were more confident, persistent, and task-involved than the children of non-authoritative parents. These findings suggest that PS continues to play an important role in the academic lives of college students, even if its effects diminish somewhat over time.
Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Success
Erikson’s (1975) stage theory of psychosocial development provides an integrative framework for exploring the impact of family dynamics on the psychosocial success of emerging adults. Erikson described eight developmental stages throughout the life span. In his theory, as they age, citizens of Western cultures experience conflicts, each involving either a positive outcome (successful resolution) or a negative one (unsuccessful resolution). Successful resolution confers on citizens psychosocial strengths, such as a sense of autonomy, a sense of initiative, or a sense of identity, that will serve them well later in life in meeting societal expectations and experiencing well-being. If a stage is not resolved successfully, the failure to gain the psychosocial strength may impair future development and success. According to Erikson’s theory, EAs should have achieved a sense of identity; that is, successful resolution of the adolescent conflict of the fifth stage: identity versus confusion.
Although Erikson’s fifth stage has been heavily studied (Oshe & Plug 1986), the role that PS plays during the critical developmental period of emerging adulthood has received insufficient attention. Steinberg and colleagues (1989) correlated PS with school achievement and with adolescents’ psychosocial maturity, which they defined as their sense of self-reliance and identity. They found that the impact of authoritative parenting on school achievement was mediated by whether adolescents developed a sense of autonomy and a healthy orientation toward work. Lamborn et al. (1991) found that adolescents from authoritative homes reported significantly higher levels of PSS than adolescents from authoritarian, permissive, or neglectful homes in terms of more positive self-conceptualizations, greater well-being, and fewer behavioral problems.
Locus of Control
Because individuals vary in the meanings that they attach to their own or others’ behavior, they place themselves on qualitatively different developmental paths (e.g., Fischer, Knight, & Van Parys, 1993; Levitt, Selman, & Richmond, 1991; Molden & Dweck, 2006; Thompson, 2000). In other words, if one person believes his behavior is the result of fate, and another believes hers is the result of hard work, they will differ in the goal setting behaviors and in the amount of effort they extend toward achieving those goals. This is the basic underlying concept of locus of control. Based on Rotter’s (1966) social learning theory, locus of control (LOC) is the extent to which individuals believe that their life circumstances are a function of either their own actions or external factors beyond their control (Moorhead & Griffin 2004). People who believe that they are in control of their own lives and that effort and ability determine their futures have an internal locus of control (ILOC). In contrast, individuals with an external locus of control (ELOC) believe that fate, luck, chance, or other people’s behavior determines what happens to them. The LOC construct has had considerable influence on research and theory concerning motivation, expectations, self-esteem, and risk-taking behavior (McCombs 1991). Moreover, it is one of the most studied variables in psychology (Rotter 1990). LOC relates to perceptions of power and autonomy, achievement, social involvement, and competence (Weisz, Weiss, Wasserman, & Rintoul 1987).
Few studies concerning LOC have examined its relation to PS, and of them, many have had methodological problems concerning the definitions and measurements of PS and have predominately involved children (see Krampen 1989). These studies indicate that the PS under which children were raised affect their LOCs (McClun & Merrill 1998). An ILOC tends to result from consistency of discipline, reinforcement of positive behaviors, and balanced autonomy: characteristics of authoritative parenting (Krampen 1989). Additionally, positive parental involvement has been implicated in the development of an ILOC of control in academic contexts (Grolnick & Ryan 1989).
Research has linked an ILOC with high self-esteem, job satisfaction, high self-efficacy, and high educational aspirations (Flowers, Milner, & Moore 2003; Morry 2003; Muhonen & Torkelson 2004; Wu, Tang, & Kwok 2004), whereas an ELOC has been associated with higher levels of stress, frequent illness, psychological distress, and relationship dissatisfaction (Morry, 2003; Muhonen & Torkelson 2004; Wu et al. 2004).
The Present Study
Building on and extending previous research, this study examined the long-term impact of PS and LOC on the PSS of EAs. In particular, LOC was analyzed to determine whether it moderated the relation between PS and PSS. Although associated with a more ELOC than authoritative parenting, as noted previously, authoritarian parents often exercise harsh discipline over their children, often leading to scholastic success and other achievement. Such success may foster a more ILOC and greater PSS as a result, especially a sense of industry and better identity formation (Berk 2004). Children of permissive parents may be the most externally controlled and have the lowest PSS as a result. Based on the preceding, these hypotheses were tested.
I. In the case of both mothers and fathers, authoritative parenting will be associated with greater PSS in children than authoritarian or permissive parenting.
II. In the case of both mothers and fathers, authoritative parenting will be associated with a more ILOC in children than authoritarian or permissive parenting.
III. LOC will moderate the impact of PS on PSS in EAs. In particular, permissive parenting will interact with LOC to lower PSS in both males and females. Authoritarian parenting, on the other hand, will interact with LOC to enhance PSS.
Three hundred, thirty-four (334) undergraduate students participated in the study: 165 males (49.4%) and 169 females (50.6%). The mean age was 18.67, SD = 2.62. All were EAs, aged18 to 25. College freshmen numbered 228 (68.3%). There were 65 sophomores (19.5%), 33 juniors (9.9%), and eight seniors (2.4%). Five ethnic categories were represented: 264 European Americans (79%), 50 African Americans (15%), 12 Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.6%), six Hispanic/Latinos (1.8%), and one Native American (.3%). One participant (.3%) was self-identified as “other.” Household composition at the time of testing was as follows: 267 participants (79.7%) had come from a traditional household form birth (two biological or adoptive parents); 36 (10.8%) were from a single parent household; 26 (7.8%) lived with a biological parent and a step-parent, and three (.9%) were classified as “other.” The mean number of siblings was 2.55.
Parental authority questionnaire. Buri (1991) designed the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) to assess Baumrind’s constructs of permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative PSs. Items are written from the perspective of offspring. Thus, an authoritative item concerning the EA’s mother might read "My mother has always encouraged verbal give-and-take whenever I have felt that family rules and restrictions were unreasonable." There is a 30-item scale to evaluate the father and a 30-item scale to evaluate the mother. Responses to items are made on a 5-point Likert-format scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). The PAQ yields six separate scores for each participant: mother's permissiveness, mother's authoritarianism, mother's authoritativeness, father's permissiveness, father's authoritarianism, and father's authoritativeness. Scores on each of these variables can range from 10 to 50; the higher the score, the greater the perceived level of the corresponding parental style measured. Test-retest reliability coefficients ranged from .74 to .92 over a two-week interval. The validity of the PAQ has been established (see Buri 1991). A limitation of this instrument is that it does not allow identification of neglectful parents. Even so, they are infrequently observed in college students (Maccoby 1992).
Measures of psychosocial development. As stated earlier, PSS was defined as successful task resolution as set forth in Erikson’s (1975) theory of psychosocial development. The Measures of Psychosocial Development (MPD; Hawley 1988), a self-report based on Erikson’s theory, was used to assess participants' levels of successful task resolution. It measures the degree to which the resolution of each of the eight stages of development has been attained. It consists of 112 self-report, Likert-format ratings (A-Not at all like me, E-Very much like me) made in response to self-describing statements (e.g., Easily deterred; Can’t express myself; Big difference between who I am and how I thought I would be). They make up 27 scales: eight positive, eight negative, and eight resolution scales, as well as three total scale scores. The 16 positive and negative scales measure the positive and negative attitudes associated with each psychosocial stage of development. The resolution scales reflect the status of conflict resolution for each of the eight psychosocial stages. The three total scales (total positive, total negative, and total resolution) assess overall psychosocial adjustment.
Of the 27 scales, 18 were relevant to this study. These scales reflected the resolution status of the first five stages of development: trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, and the identity. Of particular interest was the total resolution score of these five stages, with higher scores indicating greater PSS. Test-retest reliability coefficients for total scores range from .67 to .92. Internal consistency estimates range from .65 to .84 (Hawley 1988).
Locus of control scale. LOC was measured with the Internal-External Scale (I-E scale; Rotter, 1966). Although a number of such scales have been developed to assess LOC, Rotter's (1966) scale dominates the literature (Calderone, Hey, & Seabert 2001). The I-E scale is a 29-item forced-choice instrument, with six filler items, designed to assess externality, that is, the perception that events are unrelated to individuals’ behavior and therefore beyond their personal control. The lower their scores the more internal are their loci of control. Higher scores mean external loci. The normative mean observed by Rotter (1966) was 8.95. In this research, individuals falling below it were defined to have internal loci of control; above it are external loci of control. The scale has excellent internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and concurrent validity (Lefcourt 1976; Rotter 1990).
Participants were undergraduate volunteers from introductory psychology classes at a university in the South who received extra credit for their participation. Informed consent was first obtained. The PAQ, MPD, I-E scale, and a demographics questionnaire comprised each test booklet. Their order was randomized over participants to control for order effects. Instructions for completing the booklets were provided to participants, who were allowed to fill out surveys at home and return them to their instructors, who then forwarded them to the first author.
An a of .05 was used for all inferential tests. Prior to testing the hypotheses, gender differences were examined on all the variables in the study using independent samples t tests. No significant differences were found. Consequently, data were collapsed over gender in subsequent analyses. Table 1 presents the means, standard deviations, and coefficient alphas for each scale. Means and coefficient alphas compare favorably with what has been reported in the literature.
Descriptive Statistics for Parenting Styles, Locus of Control, and Total Psychosocial Success
Variable N % Mean SD Alpha ____________________________________________________________________
Parenting Style—Maternal .79
Authoritative 179 56.6 35.62 6.54 .70
Authoritarian 124 37.1 33.25 6.81 .72
Permissive 15 4.5 23.68 5.79 .68
Parenting Style—Paternal .85
Authoritative 155 52.4 34.06 6.84 .70
Authoritarian 128 43.3 33.31 7.41 .68
Permissive 13 3.9 22.94 5.62 .66
Locus of Control 10.33 3.72 .82
Measures of Psychosocial Development 40.94 31.24 .75
Hypothesis I predicted group differences in total PSS means (first five Eriksonian stages) as a function of maternal PS. The differences between PS means were compared using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Participants were classified into one of three parenting categories as determined by the category with the highest score on the PAQ, as recommended by Buri (1991). The independent variable, PS, thus had three categories: authoritarian, authoritative, or permissive. A total of thirty-one participants had to be excluded from the maternal or paternal analyses because their scores on two or more PS tied. The dependent variable was total resolution of the first five stages of psychosocial development. Results indicated a significant relation between PS and psychosocial development, F(2, 315) = 7.45, p < .001. Tukey's post-hoc analysis revealed that the participants of authoritative mothers scored significantly higher on MPD total resolution score, M = 46.9, than those with authoritarian, M = 33.54, or permissive mothers, M = 33.13. The latter two styles did not differ significantly from each other.
The relation between paternal PS and PSS was also addressed using a one-way ANOVA. The results indicated a significant relation, F(2, 293) = 4.83, p < .009. Tukey’s post-hoc analyses showed that participants of authoritative fathers scored significantly higher on MPD resolution, M = 45.45, than participants of authoritarian fathers, M = 36.35, who, in turn, had significantly higher scores the participants with permissive fathers, M = 24.38. The mean difference between permissive and authoritarian fathers was significant as well. Hypothesis I was strongly confirmed.
According to Hypothesis II, authoritative parenting would
produce in EAs a more ILOC than either permissive or
authoritarian parenting. To examine the relation between PS
and LOC, two one-way ANOVAs, one for mothers and a second
for fathers, were again computed. The independent variable
in each case was PS category. I-E scores were the dependent
variable. The test of the overall model for mothers was
significant, F(2, 315) = 37.01, p < .000.
Using Tukey's post-hoc procedure, it was found that maternal
authoritative parenting was associated with a more internal
LOC, 8.82, than either authoritarian or permissive
parenting. Permissive, M = 13.40, and authoritarian
parenting, M 12.08, were not significantly different
from each other. Recalling that Rotter's (1966) normative
mean for the I-E scale was 8.95, only the EAs of
authoritative mothers in this sample had an ILOC.
Hierarchical Regression for Psychosocial Success onto Demographics, Maternal Parenting
Styles, Locus of Control, and Maternal Parenting Styles X Locus of Control (N = 314)
Step 1—Demographics .009 .009
Parental Household Composition -.002
Step 2—Perceived Parenting Styles .092 .083
Maternal Authoritative .266*
Maternal Authoritarian -.051
Maternal Permissive -.125*
Step 3—Locus of Control .122 .030 -.187*
Step 4—Interaction of Maternal Perceived
Parenting Styles X Locus of Control .131 .090
Maternal Authoritative x LOC .519
Maternal Authoritarian x LOC .031
Maternal Permissive x
In step one of analyzing the maternal parenting data, demographics were not significant predictors, F(3, 311) = .964, p > .05. In step two, parenting styles were added and accounted for significant variance beyond the demographic variables, F(6, 308) = 5.195, p < .0001. The examination of incremental variance in the second model indicated an R2 of .083, which is an improvement over .009 of the first model. The standardized beta weights provide a means of assessing the relative contribution of each of the predictor variables on the dependent variable. Authoritative parenting was the strongest and only positive predictor among maternal parenting style scores (B = .266, p < .05). Permissive parenting was a significant negative predictor (B = -.125, p < .05), whereas authoritarian parenting was not.Step three determined the effect of LOC on PSS, while retaining the factors previously entered. The resulting model was significant, F(7, 307) = 6.09, p < .001. R2 was .122, a value significantly larger than that of the previous two models. Standardized beta weights reveal that the best predictor was authoritative parenting, B = .213. The other two significant, albeit negative, predictors were LOC, B = -.187, and permissive PS, B = -.119. Greater authoritative parenting, less permissive parenting, and a more ILOC were associated with PSS.
Finally, the results of
adding the interaction terms (cross products) between PS and LOC
produced a significant model, F(3, 311) = 4.55, p < .001.
The R2 was .131. None of the betas of the interaction
terms were significant. Although PS and LOC each accounted for unique
variance in the PSS of EAs, Hypothesis III was not supported with
mothers.To assess the relative contributions of paternal PS, LOC, and
the possible interaction between the two, a hierarchical regression was
again conducted as before, including entry of the same blocks into the
model. In step one, the demographic variables alone did not produce a
significant model. Adding paternal PS in step two did produce a
significant model, F(6, 285) = 5.28, p < .0001. As with
mothers, the authoritative style of fathers was the only significant and
positive predictor, B = .289, p < .05.
Hierarchical Regression for Psychosocial Success onto Demographics, Paternal Parenting
Styles, Locus of Control, and Parenting Styles X Locus of Control (N = 291)
Ra2 Δ2 B
Step 1—Demographics .002 .012
Parental Household Composition .005
Step 2—Perceived Parenting Styles .081 .088
Paternal Authoritative .289*
Paternal Authoritarian .033
Paternal Permissive .357
Step 3—Locus of Control .113 .034 -.188*
Step 4— Interaction of Paternal Perceived
Parenting Styles X Locus of Control .186 .055
Paternal Authoritative x LOC -.095
Paternal Authoritarian x LOC .667*
Paternal Permissive x
* p < .0
Adding I-E scores in step three improved the accuracy of prediction of PSS. R2 rose from .113 to .136 and again produced a significant model, F(7, 284) = 6.277, p < .0001. The largest predictor was paternal authoritative parenting, B = .266, p < .05. LOC was a significant negative predictor, B = -.188, p < .05.
To test for the moderating effect of LOC on the relation between paternal PS and PSS in step four, the interaction terms between PS and LOC were added. R2 changed from .136 to .186. The model was significant, F(10, 281) = 7.569, p < .0001. Moreover, two significant interactions were found, one between authoritarian PS and LOC, B = .667, p < .05, and another between permissive PS and LOC, B = -.700, p < .05. Hypothesis III was supported in the case of fathers. LOC moderated the relation between paternal PS and PSS such that authoritarian parenting enhanced PSS, whereas permissive parenting diminished it.
The effects of PS on many childhood outcomes have been examined in the literature (Baumrind 1989, Berk 2004; Maccoby 1994; Maccoby & Martin 1983; McClun & Merrill 1998). It is known, for instance, that parental influence extends into adolescence (Newcomb 1996). However, research concerning the long-term psychosocial impact of PS on EAs is less abundant, but is theoretically predicted by Erikson’s theory. This study sought to extend prior research by examining the impact of PS and LOC on the PSS of EAs.
Hypothesis I concerned the psychosocial advantage of authoritative parenting and was confirmed. EAs of authoritative mothers or fathers displayed greater psychosocial developmental task resolution than EAs whose parents were authoritarian or permissive. Parents who make appropriate maturity demands and have high levels of responsiveness seem to enable their children to master important developmental tasks even past adolescence.
This study specifically addressed the first five stages of Erikson's (1975) theory by assessing task resolutions of trust, autonomy, initiative, industry, and identity. Prior research has shown that authoritative parenting provides children what they need to achieve each of these five psychosocial strengths. Specifically, it promotes in children initiative, purpose, goal directedness (Baumrind 1973), confidence, and accurate assessments of their abilities (Lamborn et al. 1991; Maccoby 1994). The results of this study confirm the salutary long-term effects of authoritative parenting. Conversely, participants whose parents were authoritarian or permissive scored lower on the MPD, suggesting that authoritarian and permissive PS did not foster successful resolution of the first five stages of psychosocial development. These are also in accord with the results of prior research (Baumrind 1973; Maccoby & Martin 1983). A few caveats are noteworthy. First, the data collected are cross-sectional and correlational. Consequently, it is impossible to ascribe causal linkages among the constructs measured (Masten 2001). Moreover, data were collected from a single source, with its potential for mono-method biases. Future research on these issues might, for instance, corroborate EAs’ perceptions with parental self-perceptions of their styles. Moreover, it should be noted that PS can change over time. Consequently, recollections of EAs may reflect current PS, not styles that parents had years before.
According to Hypothesis II, authoritative parenting inculcates an internal LOC in EAs. It was confirmed with mothers, but not with fathers. In particular, EAs whose mothers were authoritative had means on Rotter’s (1966) I-E scale reflective of an ILOC compared to the EAs of authoritarian and permissive parents. These results too are consistent with previous studies involving younger children (Chorpita & Barlow 1998; Krampen 1989; McClun & Merrill 1998).
Some studies of PS utilize only one score for parents and do not differentiate between maternal and paternal styles (e.g., Dornbusch et al. 1987). The present results suggest that such a methodology may be inaccurate inasmuch as in this sample important differences were found in the pattern of results from mothers to fathers. Specifically, the results revealed that maternal PS influenced LOC, whereas paternal PS did not. Clearly, parental gender is important.
According to Hypothesis III, a significant interaction would occur between PS and LOC, indicating that LOC moderates the relation between PS and PSS. Specifically, LOC will interact with authoritarian parenting to enhance PSS and will interact with permissive parenting to lower it. The predicted pattern was found with paternal PS only. It is unclear why confirmation of this hypothesis did not generalize across parents. It may be because of the different roles of fathers in parenting compared to mothers, especially their prominent roles in discipline (Maccoby & Martin 1983). The findings do, however, reveal that PS, which are part of young adults’ past, and LOC, which are part of their present attributional style, can combine in complex ways to influence psychosocial outcomes. It may be that the EAs of authoritarian fathers, because of their enhanced academic success (Ginsburg & Bronstein 1993), develop a slightly more ILOC that synergistically enhances their PSS compared to the EAs of permissive fathers. In support, recall that the PSS of the EAs of authoritarian fathers was significantly greater than that of the EAs of permissive fathers.
The significant interactions involving fathers suggests the need to explore factors beyond PS that influence LOC. For instance, research has shown that socioeconomic status, health status, and other early environmental factors also play a role in development of LOC (Ruggiero & Taylor 1997). What factors can promote an ILOC and how do they interact with PS? The present findings, along with those of other researchers, suggest the powerful role that LOC may play in the development of resiliency in individuals (Masten 2001; Weisz & Stipek 1982). For example, McCombs (1991) found that LOC had a significant influence on motivation, expectations, and self-esteem. The thrust of empirical work in this area has demonstrated that coping processes vary as a function of the perceived controllability of a situation. An ILOC may have adaptive value in the face of misfortune by providing victims with the motivation to work to change their plight rather than retreat to a sense of apathy or hopelessness.
Limitations and Future Research. As noted above, the present findings are cross-sectional and correlational. Consequently, they do not support causal inference. Longitudinal designs that test the three hypotheses of this research would yield data more supportive of such deduction (Masten 2001). Another concern with the present data is the infrequency with which the permissive PS was observed. Though other research has shown permissive parenting to be the least prevalent of the three types (e.g., Strage & Brandt 1999), this sample had an unusually low number of permissive mothers and fathers. In retrospect, because of their low achievement, a large percentage of children from permissive parents are unlikely to be among those who have attained entry into college compared to the general population. In longitudinal studies of adolescents, participants have been categorized into perceived parenting types by using only the data derived from a pure type (Steinberg et al. 1989). Lamborn and colleagues (1991) eliminated two-thirds of their data and used only the middle tetrad as the pure parenting type. Indeed, many of the participants in this study had scores very near to each other. Recall that thirty-one participants actually tied on two different PS scores and their data had to be thrown out. A longitudinal sample more representative of the general population would lessen this concern.
Conclusions. Investigation of the long-term impact of PS on EAs has been a relatively unexplored area. Yet, it is reasonable to postulate that childhood experiences set the stage and influence the path for the remainder of life. For instance, Newcomb (1996) found that family support and bonding reduced the relation between general deviance and psychological distress for both male and female adolescents, and contended that "the parent and family environment is the earliest and primary socialization force in a child's life, with all subsequent socialization experiences shaping and modifying this prior influence" (p. 374), a view supported by the present data.
What has been observed herein may have clinical significance. An accurate and comprehensive understanding of the long-term impact of PS has implications for establishing appropriate prevention and treatment programs for those low in psychosocial competence (Cowan, Powell & Cowan 1998). These findings, if replicated in other studies, could lead to training modules focused on fostering parental skills and interventions designed to help the children of non-authoritative parents to develop more ILOC.
With respect to counseling and parenting practices, this investigation supports a relation between theory and practice by identifying correlates of PSS. PS and an ILOC were observed to contribute uniquely and synergistically to PSS. In counseling centers, therapeutic interventions might include approaches addressing parenting issues, which would fit nicely with many family system approaches.
LOC influences motivation, expectations, self-esteem, risk-taking behavior, and the outcome of actions (McCombs 1991). Interventions designed to foster an ILOC may help individuals to see the world as a place that can be altered or to which they can adapt (Reich & Zautra 1981). The development of a strong identity and intimate peer relationships are key tasks for EAs (Arnett 2000), which present significant adaptive challenges for many of them (Erikson 1975). Counselors can assist EAs from permissive backgrounds to alter their perceptions of these stressful developmental times and help them develop a sense of control in adapting to their constantly changing work, school, and social environments.
The present results have theoretical significance as well. Individual differences can buffer or build resilience against negative life events (Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker 2000; Masten 2001; 1999). LOC may moderate psychological symptoms, feelings of stress, and the development of anxiety in children (Chorpita & Barlow 1998; Frost & Clayson 1991). Beliefs about personal control traditionally have been conceptualized in the coping literature as important individual variables that can influence cognitive appraisals of stressful situations (Lazarus & Folkman 1984). An ILOC may confer protection against the experience or threat of distress, and may influence the way individuals cope (Skinner 1995). Indeed, one aspect of attributional retraining concentrates on strengthening ILOC and coping mechanisms (Deshler, Schumaker, & Lenz 1984). The present findings extend prior research on LOC (e.g., Kim, Sandler, & Tein 1997) by suggesting that, in some cases, an internal LOC acts as a resiliency factor, moderating between authoritarian parenting and PSS. In other words, although individuals may not have been reared under authoritative parents, they may, nonetheless, develop an ILOC, which helps them to overcome their non-optimal parenting and achieve PSS.
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