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Adolescents’ Response to Parental Efforts to Influence Eating Habits: When Parental Warmth Matters


Previous findings have shown both beneficial and adverse effects of parents' attempts to influence adolescents' eating habits. The current study examined the differential effect of parents' persuasion (e.g., encouragement, giving information) and pressure tactics (e.g., guilt induction, ridicule) and the moderating influence of parental warmth on older adolescents' emotional and behavioral responses. An ethnically diverse sample of 336 older adolescents (M age = 18.6; SD = 1.1; 58.0% female) were surveyed. Adolescents who reported higher levels of pressure tactics by parents reported more negative affect and behavioral resistance. Perceived parental warmth moderated the influence of persuasion tactics, but not pressure tactics. For adolescents with low parental warmth, high levels of persuasion were associated with more negative emotional and behavioral responses; persuasion had the opposite associations for adolescents with high parental warmth. These results suggest that parental warmth plays an important role in how older adolescents respond to parents' persuasion tactics. However, when parents use more forceful pressure tactics to influence eating habits, adolescents react negatively regardless of the overall quality of the parent-adolescent relationship.

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