Mother-adolescent conflict: Stability, change, and relations with externalizing and internalizing behavior problems

Claire Hofer, Nancy Eisenberg, Tracy Spinrad, Amanda S. Morris, Elizabeth Gershoff, Carlos Valiente, Anne Kupfer, Natalie Wilkens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Stability and change in mother-adolescent conflict reactions (CRs) and the prediction of CRs from adolescents' earlier behavior problems (and vice versa) were examined with 131 mothers and their adolescents (63 boys). Dyads engaged in a 6-min conflict discussion twice, 2 years apart [M age was 13 at Time 1 (T1)]. Non-verbal expressive and verbal CRs during the conflict discussion were coded. Mothers, fathers, and teachers reported on adolescents' problem behaviors. There was inter-individual (rank-order) stability for adolescents' CRs whereas mothers' reactions were less stable. Mean levels of mothers' negativity, anger, and positive reactions and adolescents' negativity declined with time. Mothers' CRs, more often than adolescents' CRs, predicted and were predicted by adolescents' problem behaviors in zero-order correlations. In structural equation models with the stability of the constructs accounted for, adolescents' externalizing problems at T1 predicted higher maternal anger at Time 2 (T2). Mothers' anger and positive CRs at T1 predicted fewer T2 adolescents' internalizing problems. Stability and change in CRs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-279
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013


  • Externalizing problems
  • Internalizing problems
  • Mother-adolescent conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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