Internalized conformity and self-esteem
Lash, Sheryl Beaty
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The parent-adolescent socialization literature has considered the variables autonomy and conformity separately and has noted their relations to adolescent outcomes in the parenting context. Self-determination theory (SDT) suggests that conformity in a context that includes autonomy is internalized. The current project tested this relation by examining areas of correlation between autonomy and conformity in light of theory. A latent variable, self-direction, that included autonomy and conformity, was created and proposed as mediator between parenting and adolescent self-esteem. The structural model had an acceptable fit to the data and indicated that self-direction (i.e., internalized conformity) mediated the relation between parenting and self-esteem. Self-direction explained a larger portion of the variance in autonomy than in conformity. This suggests that the conformity variable contained elements of external conformity in addition to theinternalized conformity that was associated with autonomy. Findings suggest that it is not only autonomy, but also conformity that is internalized and contributes to the relation of parenting to adolescent self-esteem. Findings also support the SDT proposition that there is no gender difference between boys and girls in the configuration of influences of parenting, self-direction, and self-esteem. Recommendations are made for extending the exploration of how parenting influences the balance between adolescent conformity and autonomy for optimal adolescent outcomes.