This study examined gender differences in autonomy and relatedness in adolescent-mother interactions, to evaluate two competing notions. The first, based on social role theory, suggested that girls and their mothers would show lower autonomy and higher relatedness than boys and their mothers. The second, stemming from the psychodynamic perspective, suggested that girls would show higher autonomy than boys, and that girls and their mothers would show lower relatedness than boys and their mothers. Participants were 122 Jewish Israeli mothers and their 16.5 years old adolescents (58.19 % girls) from middle class families residing in northern and central cities in Israel. Dyads were observed during a family disagreement (i.e., a high-conflict condition) and while planning a vacation (i.e., a low-conflict condition). Autonomy and relatedness of each participant in each task were coded using the Individuality and Connectedness Q-sort (Bengston & Grotevant 1999). Our findings indicated that girls displayed higher autonomy than boys across the two conflict conditions. In addition, girls and their mothers showed lower relatedness than boys and their mothers, but only under the high-conflict condition. These results are in line with the notions offered by the psychodynamic perspective. They reveal the unique challenges which Jewish Israeli girls and their mothers may face with respect to autonomy and relatedness, and highlight the importance of assessing autonomy and relatedness under varied conflict conditions.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 6, 2015
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