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Child contingent self-esteem mediates the link between need frustration and psychological control

Lee, Pek Yen (2019) Child contingent self-esteem mediates the link between need frustration and psychological control. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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This research study explores why parents use more psychologically controlling parenting (PCP) when their basic needs are frustrated. Using a theory called Self-Determination Theory (SDT), these basic psychological needs, termed needs, are considered fundamental to wellbeing. Need frustration occurs when parents’ needs are actively thwarted. Need frustration has been associated with PCP in parents of adolescents and this study aimed to replicate this association in parents of young children. Contingent self-esteem is theorised to arise in need frustration, so this study explored parents’ child contingent self-esteem as an explanation, speculating that child contingent self-esteem might be the motivation for PCP when parents are need frustrated. Participants, parents (N = 187; 161 mothers, and 26 fathers) with children who were between five and 10 years old (age M = 7.26 years), participated in an online survey which measured parents’ self-reported levels of PCP (measure derived from the Dependency and Achievement Oriented Psychological Control Scale), child contingent self-esteem (Child Contingent Self-Esteem Scale) and need frustration (Basic Need Frustration and Satisfaction Scale). Child contingent self-esteem was found to be correlated with need frustration and, further, child contingent self-esteem explained the association for between need frustration and PCP. These findings support the premise that parents’ child contingent self-esteem and resultant PCP are compensatory activity and parents’ attempts to meet their own needs. A limitation was that this study lacked sufficient measures to determine additional explanations for parents’ PCP, so future studies could measure possible other factors such as stress and parents’ psychological availability.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Supervisor(s): Davis, Helen
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