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Heated argument and adolescent development

Peterson, C., Peterson, J.L. and Skevington, S. (1986) Heated argument and adolescent development. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 3 (2). pp. 229-240.

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This study explored some correlates of parent-child conflict in healthy, nonclinical families. The subjects were 100 Australian adolescents, fifty male and fifty female, who were divided into concrete-operational and formal/transitional groups on the basis of their performance on two Piagetian problem-solving tasks. Their habitual modes of dealing with disagreements with their parents were scored on a continuum from conflict evasion through calm and heated discussion to fighting. The extent of opinion divergence between parent and child, and the benefits that adolescents gained from the parent-child relationship were also assessed. Results showed significantly more heated levels of debate by formal than concrete-operational subjects. Opinion divergence was not significantly related to cognitive level but was inversely related to the satisfaction that adolescents derived from involvement with their parents. On the other hand, satisfaction bore no significant relationship to the calmness versus heatedness of a family's habitual conflict-resolution strategies. The implications of these findings for an understanding both of the adolescent transition from concrete to formal operations, and of the functions served by conflict in a healthy family are considered.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Publisher: Sage
Copyright: © 1986, Sage Publications.
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