Relational Schemas and the Developing Self: Perceptions of Mother and of Self as Joint Predictors of Early Adolescents’ Self-Esteem

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relational schemas, self-esteem, adolescence, social development, perception of maternal behavior, self-perception

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This 1-year longitudinal study examined early adolescents' (N=278, age 11-13 years) perceptions of their mother's behavior (affection, knowledge of child's activities, and psychological control) and of how they react to their mother (trust in mother, defiance, and debilitation) as predictors of self-esteem among peers. Perceived maternal affection predicted self-esteem for girls; perceived psychological control forecast lower self-esteem for boys. Perceptions of self as untrusting, defiant, or debilitated led to lower self-esteem. Furthermore, perceived maternal behavior interacted with perceived self-reactions to predict self-esteem: Perceived debilitation led to reduced self-esteem only under high perceived maternal psychological control; perceived defiance predicted lower self-esteem only under low perceived maternal knowledge. The prediction of self-esteem is clearly enhanced when perceived self-reactions are included along with perceived maternal behavior as predictors. Combinations of perceived maternal behavior and perceived self-reactions--relational schemas--warrant increased attention as possible influences on the developing self.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Developmental Psychology, v. 43, issue 6, p. 1474-1483.