Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor's Name

Wendy Silverman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

William Kurties

Third Advisor's Name

James Jaccard

Date of Defense

3-3-2011

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis was to examine potential respective mediating and moderating roles of two types of control variables, locus of control (LOC) and perceived anxiety control (AC), among four different aspects of parenting (i.e., Psychological Control, Intrusiveness, Inconsistency, and Lax Discipline) and anxiety symptoms thereby extending the work of Chorpita et al. (1998) and Muris et al. (2002).

Consistent with Chorpita and Barlow (1998), it was hypothesized that for younger children, LOC would mediate the relation between parenting styles and anxiety. For older children, in contrast, LOC would moderate the relation between parenting styles and anxiety. Because this is the first study to include PCA with respect to parenting style and anxiety, no specific hypothesis was formulated regarding its mediating versus moderating role.

Participants consisted of 237 youth (49% girls) and their parents, who were referred to a clinic for anxiety disorders. After signed informed consent/assent was obtained, a comprehensive assessment battery of interview schedules and questionnaires was administered. Data were analyzed using Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) procedures and models examining the two types of Child Control as both mediators and moderators were tested.

Results indicated that, contrary to hypotheses, child age did not play a significant role in determining whether LOC operated as a mediator or a moderator. Child Age did, however, play a role in determining whether PCA operated as a mediator for only one of the four parenting styles: Lax Discipline. Specifically, for younger children, PCA did not mediate the relation between Lax Discipline and child anxiety; however, for older children, PCA did mediate the relation between Lax Discipline and child anxiety.

Findings indicate that LOC significantly predicts child anxiety. In addition, LOC partially mediates the relation between only one aspect of parenting, Inconsistency, and child anxiety. Greater inconsistency in parenting predicts a more external LOC in the child, which in turn predicts high levels of child anxiety. Perceived AC does not significantly meditate nor moderate the relation between the four different aspects of parenting and anxiety. Furthermore, AC does not significantly predict child anxiety.

Also, contrary to hypotheses, child age does not play a significant role in determining whether LOC operated as either a mediator or a moderator between parenting and child anxiety. Child age, however, does moderate the relation between Lax Discipline and perceived AC, such that the association between Lax Discipline and perceived AC is stronger for older children than younger children.

The results further the empirical evidence that clarifies the roles of “control” and “parenting” in a sample of youth and their parents within the framework.

Identifier

FI12041110

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