The role of logical consequences in adolescents' cognitive precursors of compliance and internalization

J Exp Child Psychol. 2020 Apr:192:104777. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2019.104777. Epub 2020 Jan 17.


It is well established that parents' responses to adolescents' transgressions play a role in adolescents' future compliance and internalization process. However, research has yet to reach a consensus on the effectiveness of several specific authority exertion strategies. One of these strategies, which theoretically holds the potential to foster both compliance and internalization, is parental use of logical consequences. Using an experimental vignette methodology and a sample of 214 adolescents (Mage = 15.28 years), the current study compared the effects of logical consequences with classical authority exertion strategies (mild punishments, reasoning, and no authority exertion). Results showed that adolescents held favorable perceptions regarding logical consequences; they rated logical consequences as the most acceptable and, on an equal footing with mild punishments, the most effective strategy to elicit future compliance. Furthermore, whereas older adolescents did not generally anticipate that their reasons to comply would vary as a function of parents' choice of authority exertion strategies, younger adolescents anticipated that they would comply for more well-internalized reasons in response to logical consequences compared with mild punishments. Implications of these findings for the promotion of optimal parenting and future research directions are discussed.

Keywords: Authority exertion; Compliance; Internalization; Logical consequences; Mild punishments; Parenting; Rule breaking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Anticipation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting*
  • Thinking / physiology*