Adolescent Social Functioning: The Role of Parental Reflective Functioning and Adolescent Mentalizing in Predicting Adolescent Prosocial Behaviour and Peer Problems
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Adolescence is a critical developmental period in which social relationships become especially influential, with social functioning producing a number of important downstream effects for adolescent’s psychological and socio-emotional well-being. Yet, our understanding of the individual and familial factors that are associated with positive adolescent social functioning is not comprehensive and this age group remains consistently understudied compared to early childhood years, despite the fact that parents continue to be influential for youth outcomes. One factor that may support adolescent social success is the reflective functioning skills (the ability to reason about the mental sates of oneself and others) possessed by the parent. Further, the adolescent’s own reflective functioning skills may have important influences on adolescent social functioning, and may mediate the hypothesized association between parental reflective functioning and adolescent social functioning. In this study of 87 parent-youth pairs (youth ages 12-15), we examine the associations between parental reflective functioning, youth mentalizing, and youth social functioning using a variety of self-report and task-based measures. Regressions and mediation analyses revealed that parental and youth reflective functioning both uniquely contribute to youth social functioning; however, patterns of association differ depending on the social behaviour examined (namely prosocial behaviours versus peer problems) and whether the parent or the youth is the reporter of youth social functioning. Unlike their parental reflective functioning skills, parents’ general reflective functioning skills were not associated with youth social functioning, suggesting that there may be unique elements of mental state reasoning related to the parenting relationship that are more influential for youths’ development. Implications for theory and practice are also discussed.
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Charlotte Aitken (2022). Adolescent Social Functioning: The Role of Parental Reflective Functioning and Adolescent Mentalizing in Predicting Adolescent Prosocial Behaviour and Peer Problems. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/18598
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