Relationships with parents are often perceived to be different in adolescence and to become characterised by conflict and psychological disturbance. Research evidence for conflict Different approaches offer insights into why conflict may occur. For example, cognitive developmental theories can explain conflict as the developmental of thoughts and opinions due to attachment of the formal operations stages of cognitive development. The sociological approach focuses on external pressures, such as the peer group, as a source of conflict in the home. The psychoanalytical approach links conflict to the adolescent’s inner crisis and striving for independence. The evolutionary theory explains conflict as competition for resources. The humanistic perspective link conflict to a lack of unconditional positive regard and self – esteem.
Autonomy: Apter (1990) studied 65 mother daughter pairs in US and UK. Most adolescent girls felt closest to the other mothers. In contrast to traditional view, it showed that parents played an important role in the development of autonomy – connected and secure attacthment promote healthy development in both infancy and adolescence. Conflict: Barber (1974) found that parents and adolescents argue over school work, chores, social life and friends, personal hygiene, disobedience; avoid issues like sex, drug, religion and politics.
Smetana (1988) found that adolescents feel that certain areas of their lives should be under their own control sleeping in late, watching TV, hairstyles, clothing and friendships. Dishon et al (1991) found that conflicts with parents are most likely if they feel their child has become involved with the ‘wrong crowd’ (a deviant peer group). Identity: Waterman (1982) reviewed a number of studies. He found a relationship between the parenting styles and identity development. For example democratic style facilitated identity development.
Research evidence against conflict: Offer et al (1988) cross cultural research found that 91 % of adolescenst did not hold a grudge against their parents, and did not feel that their parents were ashamed of them. This contradicts the idea that conflict shows that adolescents may be happy with their home situation. Youniss (1989) found that many adolescents reported being very close to their parents. Durkin (1997) pointed out that conflicts occur between any individuals sharing a household.
Critisisms: 1) Face validity: conflict with parents has face validity because it is commonly experienced during adolescence. But it may be that that these conflicts are relatively minor and so their existence is not as defining of adolescence as early research suggests. 2) Criticisms of self report: the research evidence against conflict may be biased by the social desirability effect. Whereby the participant wants to be present him or herself in the best light and so negates any problems within the parental relationship. Our demand characteristics may cause a biased response. Self report is highly vulnerable to such researcher and participant effects, and this invalidates the research.
Relationship with peers: A01 Peer influences increases during adolescence. Peer groups help provide emotional support, and their acceptance provides adolescents with self confidence as well as security outside the family, allowing them to explore different ideologies, also testing their abilities to form relationships. Research evidence for: Palmonari et al (1989) surveyed Italian 16-18 years olds and found 90 % identified themselves as belonging to a peer group.
Burhmester (1992) found that adolescents in close peer group were less prone to anxiety and depression. Brendt (1979) found that conformity to adult’s suggestion decreased with age, whereas conformity to the peer group increases. According to Harris (1997) the group socialisation theory claims that the peer group is far more influential than the parents and that as long as adequate care is received, it would not matter who the parents were as the adolescent’s behaviour is determined by the peer group. Harris claims that it is better to come from a bad family in a good neighbourhood than come from a good family in a bad neighbourhood!
Steinberg ; Silverberg (1986) found that the peer group provides the adolescents with security and self confidence outside the family and so it is important between childhood and adulthood. Research evidence against: Humans are capable of multiple attachments and so an increase in attachment to peers does not necessarily decrease parental tie. Fuligni ; Eccles (1993) research evidence on parenting suggest that the peer group is more influential in children of authoritarian parents than democratic parents, which suggests that peer influence may be limited by good parenting.
Criticisms: 1) Strong research evidence: the amount and variety of research on the peer group provides indisputable evidence of its influence of adolescents. 2) Researcher bias: Harris group socialisation theory is controversial as it is difficult to accept that individual parents don’t matter. This of course is a subjective viewpoint and so may lack validity. 3) Advantages of peer socialisation: the research evidence on the beneficial effects of the peer group, such as a sense of belonging and self- confidence, leads to the conclusion that peer group integration is very important to psychological well – being and successful assimilation of adult roles.
4) Multi – perspective: the problem with any research on social factors is that this tends to ignore the internal factors and so doesn’t account for individual differences. Thus, whilst it is important to recognise the importance of social factors, a multi – perspective is needed to fully understand adolescent relationships. Conclusions: Humans are capable of multiple attachments and so an increase in attachment to peers does not necessarily decrease parental ties. Parents and peers have different areas of influence.