Depressive symptoms in adolescence: Longitudinal links with maternal empathy and psychological control

Lente L. A. A. Werner*, Jolien Van der Graaff, W.H.J. Meeus, Susan J. T. Branje

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Building on self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan in Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268. doi:10.1207/S15327965PLI1104_01, 2000), the aim of the current study was to examine the role of maternal affective and cognitive empathy in predicting adolescents' depressive symptoms, through mothers' psychological control use. Less empathic mothers may be less sensitive to adolescents' need for psychological autonomy, and thus prone to violating this need using psychological control, which may in turn predict adolescents' depressive symptoms. Moreover, according to interpersonal theory of depression (Coyne in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85, 186-193. doi:, 1976), adolescents' depressive symptoms may elicit rejecting responses, such as mothers' psychological control. For six waves, 497 adolescents (57 % boys, M (age) T-1 = 13.03) annually completed questionnaires on depressive symptoms and maternal psychological control, while mothers reported on their empathy. Cross-lagged path analyses showed that throughout adolescence, both mothers' affective and cognitive empathy indirectly predicted boys' and girls' depressive symptoms, through psychological control. Additionally, depressive symptoms predicted psychological control for boys, and early adolescent girls. These results highlight the importance of (1) mothers' affective and cognitive empathy in predicting adolescents' depressive symptoms, and (2) taking gender into account when examining adolescent-effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1132
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume44
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Psychological control
  • Maternal empathy
  • Self-determination theory
  • CHILD PHYSICAL ABUSE
  • GENDER-DIFFERENCES
  • DISPOSITIONAL EMPATHY
  • DEVELOPMENTAL-CHANGES
  • PERSPECTIVE-TAKING
  • BEHAVIORAL-CONTROL
  • RISK-FACTORS
  • PARENTS
  • AUTONOMY
  • MOTHERS

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