Department of Educational Psychology


Date of this Version



Sturge-Apple ML, Li Z, Martin MJ, Jones-Gordils HR, Davies PT (2020). Mothers’ and fathers’ self-regulation capacity, dysfunctional attributions and hos- tile parenting during early adolescence: A process-oriented approach. Development and Psychopathology 32, 229–241.


Cambridge University Press 2019


The parent-child relationship undergoes substantial reorganization over the transition to adolescence. Navigating this change is a challenge for parents because teens desire more behavioral autonomy as well as input in decision-making processes. Although it has been demon- strated that changes in parental socialization approaches facilitates adolescent adjustment, very little work has been devoted to understand- ing the underlying mechanisms supporting parents’ abilities to adjust caregiving during this period. Guided by self-regulation models of parenting, the present study examined how parental physiological and cognitive regulatory capacities were associated with hostile and insen- sitive parent conflict behavior over time. From a process-oriented perspective, we tested the explanatory role of parents’ dysfunctional child-oriented attributions in this association. A sample of 193 fathers, mothers, and their early adolescent (ages 12–14) participated in laboratory-based research assessments spaced approximately 1 year apart. Parental physiological regulation was measured using square root of the mean of successive differences during a conflict task; cognitive regulation was indicated by set-shifting capacity. Results showed that parental difficulties in vagal regulation during parent-adolescent conflict were associated with increased hostile conflict behavior over time; however, greater set-shifting capacity moderated this association for fathers only. In turn, father’s dysfunctional attributions regarding adolescent behavior mediated the moderating effect. The results highlight how models of self-regulation and social cognition may explain the determinants of hostile parenting with differential implications for fathers during adolescence.