Information management strategies in early adolescence: developmental change in use and transactional associations with psychological adjustment

Dev Psychol. 2013 May;49(5):928-37. doi: 10.1037/a0028845. Epub 2012 Jun 11.


Adolescents use various strategies to manage their parents' access to information. This study tested developmental change in strategy use, longitudinal associations between disclosing and concealing strategies, and longitudinal associations linking disclosing and concealing strategies with antisocial behavior and depressive symptoms. Self-report data (n = 218; 49% female; 49% European American, 47% African American) following Grades 5 (M age = 11 years, 11 months), 6, and 7 show that the use of disclosing strategies (e.g., telling all, telling if asked) following misbehavior declined while use of concealing strategies (e.g., omitting details, keeping secrets, lying) increased over time. Longitudinal links between strategies suggest a transactional process wherein infrequent disclosing is a gateway to concealment but concealment also predicts subsequent rank-order reductions in disclosure. Infrequent disclosing was associated with more subsequent antisocial behavior and depressive symptoms, whereas more antisocial behavior was associated with more subsequent concealment. Although absolute declines in disclosure and increases in concealment are normative, individual differences show that adolescents reporting low levels of disclosure, rather than high levels of concealment, appear to experience the most adjustment problems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Association*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Management*
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Disclosure*