Patterns of competence and adjustment among adolescents from authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful families

Child Dev. 1991 Oct;62(5):1049-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1991.tb01588.x.


In order to test Maccoby and Martin's revision of Baumrind's conceptual framework, the families of approximately 4,100 14-18-year-olds were classified into 1 of 4 groups (authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, or neglectful) on the basis of the adolescents' ratings of their parents on 2 dimensions: acceptance/involvement and strictness/supervision. The youngsters were then contrasted along 4 sets of outcomes: psychosocial development, school achievement, internalized distress, and problem behavior. Results indicate that adolescents who characterize their parents as authoritative score highest on measures of psychosocial competence and lowest on measures of psychological and behavioral dysfunction; the reverse is true for adolescents who describe their parents as neglectful. Adolescents whose parents are characterized as authoritarian score reasonably well on measures indexing obedience and conformity to the standards of adults but have relatively poorer self-conceptions than other youngsters. In contrast, adolescents from indulgent homes evidence a strong sense of self-confidence but report a higher frequency of substance abuse and school misconduct and are less engaged in school. The results provide support for Maccoby and Martin's framework and indicate the need to distinguish between two types of "permissive" families: those that are indulgent and those that are neglectful.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Authoritarianism*
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Personality Development*
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Behavior
  • Socialization*