Published in final edited form as:
J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2011 November; 40(6): 825–836.
Contributions of Parent-Adolescent Negative Emotionality, Adolescent Conflict, and Adoption Status to Adolescent Externalizing Behaviors
Bibiana D. Koh Martha A. Rueter
Department of Family Social Science, University of Minnesota
Although most adopted children are well adjusted, decades of descriptive research have consistently found that adopted adolescents are at an increased risk for externalizing behaviors. Yet we have little understanding of the specific contributing factors that help explain this increased risk. Therefore, the present investigation tested a process model whereby parent-adolescent negative emotionality traits, adolescent conflict, and adoption status contribute to adolescent externalizing behaviors. The study included 616 families from the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study (SIBS; McGue et al., 2007). The proposed model was tested using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). Findings support two conflict-mediated family processes that contributed to externalizing behaviors: one initiated by parent-adolescent traits, and one by adoption status. Findings also underscore the salience of conflict in families and the significance of aggressive traits over the other lower order traits (alienation, stress reactivity) and higher order negative emotionality in our proposed process. Contrary to previous research, we found that adoption status did not directly add to our explanation of adolescent externalizing behaviors beyond our proposed process. Instead, adoption status was indirectly associated with externalizing problems through a conflict-mediated relationship.
Keywords: parent-adolescent, dyadic traits, negative emotionality, conflict, externalizing, adoption
Using procedures approved by the university IRB, all participating families completed informed consent, a battery of assessments, and two five-minute videotaped family interaction tasks during a half-day visit to the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research (MCTFR). Family members also completed mailed, pre-visit personality questionnaires prior to the in-person interview. Each family member separately completed self-report questionnaires in MCTFR interview offices after the recorded family interactions. For the videotaped family interactions, all family members were seated around a table in a room decorated to look like a living/dining room. Discussions were recorded by an inconspicuously placed video camera. Tasks were explained to the family by a trained interviewer, who left the room during videotaping. The first task consisted of a family attempt to reach consensus about a Rorschach inkblot; for the second task, the family attempted to resolve a moral dilemma.
J Abnorm Child Psychol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2012 July 1.
Published in final edited form as:
J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2011 July; 39(5): 683–694.
The Relationship between Parent-Child Conflict and Adolescent Antisocial Behavior: Confirming Shared Environmental Mediation
Ashlea M. Klahr,1 Martha A. Rueter,2 Matt McGue,3 William G. Iacono,3 and S. Alexandra Burt1
Observer-ratings were based on two 5-minute videotaped family interactions. The interactions took place with family members seated around a dining table, in a room decorated to look like a living room/dining room (as detailed in Rueter, Keyes, Iacono, & McGue, 2009). The video camera was inconspicuously located in a bookcase, although family members were aware that they were being videotaped. For the first task, families were presented with a novel object, a Rorschach inkblot (Exner, 2002), and asked to come to a consensus about what the inkblot resembled. For the second task, families were presented with a moral dilemma (Kohlberg, 1981). In the story, a man’s wife has been diagnosed with a fatal disease but he cannot afford to buy the only drug that can save her life. Families were asked to work together to decide: (a) whether the man should steal the drug for his wife, and (b) whether he should also steal the drug for a stranger in need.