Journal of Motivation, Emotion, and Personality

Reversal Theory Studies

Developmental Antecedents of Proactive and Reactive Rebelliousness

Author: Mark R. McDermott and Nilupa B. Barik
Organization: University of East London

Citation: McDermott and Barik, N.B. 2014. Developmental Antecedents of Proactive and Reactive Rebelliousness: The Role of Parenting Style, Childhood Adversity, and Attachment. Journal of Motivation, Emotion, and Personality. Vol. 2, No. 1 (2014), pp. 22-31. DOI: 10.12689/jmep.2014.203

Abstract: Adolescence is a time of developmental transition that for one in five young people is characterised by feelings of oppositionality, rebellion, and negativism. Despite the prevalent experience of teen turbulence and despite its significance within the phenomenological framework provided by reversal theory (RT), the childhood antecedents of rebelliousness in adolescence and adulthood have not been given extensive empirical attention within RT, although such work has been carried out using other constructs and theories. We examined recalled parenting style, childhood adversity, and attachment style in adulthood as correlates of proactive and reactive rebelliousness in a sample of 80 participants, aged 18 to 50 years. Each participant responded to a questionnaire package containing the revised Adult Attachment Scale, the Parental Bonding Instrument, the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse Questionnaire, and the Negativism Dominance Scale. We found that paternal abusive parenting, followed by paternal parenting style, paternal neglect, and paternal antipathy were independently predictive of scores on proactive rebelliousness, the sensation-seeking form. Maternal and paternal indifferent parenting styles each were found to equivalently and independently predict scores on reactive rebelliousness, the interpersonal disa ffection form. The results of this study suggest these two forms of rebelliousness may have distinctly di fferent antecedents. A longitudinal study is needed to examine the potentially causal pathways that are suggested by the results of this cross-sectional research. We consider reversal theory explanations of these results and contrast them with complementary theoretical frameworks.

Keywords: rebelliousness, parenting style, childhood adversity

DOI: 10.12689/jmep.2014.203

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