Perceived Psychological Control And Anxiety In Early Adolescents: The Mediating Role Of Attributional Style

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Cognitive Therapy And Research


Research indicates that perceived parental control is a risk factor for anxiety in youth, but mechanisms underlying this connection remain under-examined. This study examined whether hopeless attributional style mediates this relationship, as well as whether this relationship is moderated by gender, in early adolescents (N = 116, ages 10-14). We assessed two hypotheses: (1) that hopeless attributional style would mediate the relationship between perceived maternal psychological control and anxiety symptoms across 1 year, and (2) that this pathway would be stronger for girls than for boys. This study used a three-wave, prospective longitudinal design. Hopelessness was a significant mediator; early adolescents who perceived high rates of maternal psychological control tended to develop a more hopeless attributional style, which in turn predicted increases in anxiety. This effect was not moderated by gender. We discuss implications for treating and preventing anxiety in youth, specifically the need for interventions to address children's hopeless attributions and perceptions of parents' behaviors.