Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Pittman, Laura D.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


This study aimed to specify factors, particularly parenting behaviors and gender, that influence the development of anxiety symptoms during early adolescence. Past research tends to incorporate a large age range; thus, this study focused on early adolescence which involves a change in the dynamics of the parent-child relationship such that children become less dependent on their parents. The study collected data from 153 middle school students (Mage = 12.71 years; 54.2% female; 48% White) using an online data collection instrument during study hall periods in the school day. Partial correlations revealed that rejection among both parent figures is the greatest predictor of early adolescent anxiety, followed by maternal anxious rearing and paternal emotional warmth. Additionally, multiple linear regressions demonstrated that rejection accounted for the most unique variance among all parenting behaviors when assessed simultaneously for both the maternal and paternal model. The study added to the literature by simultaneously comparing both parents’ particular behaviors to better understand the differential role of each figure. Results indicated that maternal anxious rearing and paternal rejection accounted for unique variance in early adolescent anxiety, above and beyond the other parent figure’s behaviors. Finally, a 2 x 2 repeated measures ANOVA and moderation analyses were conducted to identify potential gender differences. Few mean level differences were detected, with the exception of females reporting higher levels of anxiety and maternal anxious rearing. Moderation analyses found that the path between multiple maternal behaviors (i.e., overprotection, rejection, and emotional warmth) and early adolescent anxiety was moderated by child gender such that the relationships were significant for males, but not females. Collectively, the differential patterns found for mother and father figures support the notion that fathers play an important and unique role. As such, fathers’ parenting should be assessed as part of the family context and fathers’ involvement in treatment of anxiety is warranted.


102 pages




Northern Illinois University

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