Perceptions of Parental Control and the Development of Indecision among Late Adolescent Females

By Ferrari, Joseph R.; Olivette, Michael J. | Adolescence, Winter 1993 | Go to article overview

Perceptions of Parental Control and the Development of Indecision among Late Adolescent Females


Ferrari, Joseph R., Olivette, Michael J., Adolescence


Research indicates that parental authority may have an impact on the academic performance of children (Dornbusch, Ritter, Leiderman, Roberts, & Froleigh, (1987), adolescent development of autonomy (Pardeck & Pardeck, 1990), and prosocial values (Greenberger & Goldberg, 1989). Parental authority styles may also place youth at risk of developing psychiatric disorders, such as narcissism, codependency, depression, and low self-esteem (Bornstedt & Fisher, 1986); Buri, 1989; Buri, Louiselle, Misukanis, & Mueller, 1988; Fischer & Crawford, 1992; Kashani, Hoeper, Beck, & Corcoran, 1987). In fact, Baumrind (1970, 1971) reported that children of parents with a permissive style, characterized as warm and less apt to employ punishment, tend to lack self-reliance and inquisitiveness. Authoritarian parents, who control through harsh punishment, tend to produce children who are discontent, withdrawn, and distrustful. In Baumrind's opinion, the ideal parent is one who exerts a high degree of control but encourages the child's striving for autonomy in appropriate areas. Children raised in this environment, termed authoritative, tend to be self-reliant, self-controlled, and inquisitive, and report high-esteem (Baumrind, 1984).

Recently, Buri (1991) developed a self-report scale designed to measure Baumrind's typology of permissive, authoritarian, authoritative parenting style for both mothers and fathers. The Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) is a reliable 30-item, 5-point Likert scale, with 10 items per style that is scored twice by respondents (once for each parent). Studies using the PAQ suggest that both mothers and fathers who provide nurturance to their adolescent promoted self-esteem, while authoritarian parents raised adolescents with low self-esteem (Buri, 1989). Permissiveness by both mothers and fathers were not significantly related to the development of self-esteem (Buri, Cooper, Richtsmeier, & Komar, 1991). Fathers, but not mothers, who reported strong hostility tendencies, in fact, were judged as authoritarian, and had daughters who claimed low self-esteem (Buri, Richtsmeier, Komar, Cooper, & Kirscher, 1992).

The present study investigated the influence of Baumrind's three parental authority protocols (as assessed by the PAQ) on the development of frequent procrastination tendencies among late adolescent (college student) females. To the authors' knowledge, this study is the first to explore the developmental roots of indecision. Interested readers are referred to Ferrari and Olivette (1993) for a complete discussion of the development of procrastination behavior. A growing body of literature suggests that chronic decisional procrastination may be a maladaptive personality tendency (Ferrari, 1991a; Janis & Mann, 1977). A cognitive antecedent of performance delay, decisional procrastination, or indecision, is said to be a coping pattern used to deal with decision-making situations perceived as stressful (Janis & Mann, 1977). Decisional procrastination has been related to low self-esteem, diffuse-identity, forgetfulness, and cognitive processing failure, but is not associated with lack of intelligence (Effert & Ferrari, 1989; Ferrari, 1989, 1991a).

In the present study, it was not expected that decisional procrastination would be related to mothers' and fathers' permissive authority styles. Previous research has found that permissive parenting is not related to dysfunctional personality tendencies such as low self-esteem (Buri et al., 1991), or codependency (Fischer & Crawford, 1992). Therefore, it was not expected to be a relevant variable in the development of decisional procrastination. Authoritative mothers and fathers who establish expectations but are flexible with regard to developmental needs, may raise children who are self-assured, self-reliant, and assertive (Baumrind, 1984). Children of authoritative parents may not need to use indecision as a defensive coping strategy to parental authority. …

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