Self-concept, inner residue of past relationships and current social functioning. : A study of age and gender differences in normal and antisocial adolescents

Abstract: This thesis presents several studies of normative development in adolescence, focusing specifically on internalized perceptions of parents’ early behavior and how these perceptions affect the self-concept and social functioning during. Questions of possible age and gender differences in relation to perceptions of self-concept and early parental behavior are addressed. The patterns found in a normal adolescent group are compared with those in a group of adolescents with antisocial problems. Two hundred seventy-seven normal adolescents aged 12 to18 and 30 adolescents with antisocial problems aged 13-19 were investigated. The following self-administered instruments were used: self-concept assessments, the Structural Analysis of Social Behavior (SASB) introject questionnaire, perception of early parental behavior assessment, the SASB mother/father questionnaires, and the EMBU (A Swedish acronym for “own memories of upbringing”). The Youth Self Report checklist (YSR) was used to assess internalizing and externalizing problems. Studies I and II showed that the normal adolescent self-concept and perception of early parental behavior were positive and that there were no age or gender differences. The antisocial group of adolescents, and particularly the antisocial girls, showed a more autonomous and negative self-concept and more negative perceptions of early parental behaviors. Study III showed that a positive self-concept was related to a positive perception of parent’s early behavior. Study IV showed that an adolescent’s positive self-concept was influenced by a mix of mother acting positively and father acting with control. Adolescent self-control was indirectly influenced by parental control behavior mediated through self-affiliation. Study V showed that a positive self-concept was important for adjustment. A negative self-concept combined with female gender was a risk factor for internalizing problems. Self-control had only a small effect on social adjustment in adolescence. The relationship between a negative self-concept and externalizing problem behavior was stronger for adolescents aged 15 to 16 than for younger or older adolescents. Internalizing problem behavior influenced externalizing problems. The results presented in this thesis support a modified “storm-and-stress” view of adolescence and highlight the importance of promoting a positive self-concept in every adolescent in various psychosocial contexts.