Unintended effects of parental mediation during adolescence: An investigation into the mediating role of psychological reactance and moderating influences of individual differences
White, Shawna Renee
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The present dissertation examines mediating and moderating factors influencing outcomes associated with parental mediation of media content. Specifically, potential unintended effects of restrictive and active mediation on attitudes and intentions of youth to engage with objectionable content were investigated among a sample of 149 preadolescents and adolescents (aged 7 to 17 years). Psychological reactance—as a process involving freedom threat perceptions, state reactance, and reactance restoration—was examined as a mediator of the relationships between mediation type and unintended outcomes including more negative attitudes toward parents, more positive attitudes toward objectionable content, and increased peer viewing of objectionable content. Age and trait reactance were examined as moderators of predicted relationships of reactance. No direct or indirect associations were found pertaining to restrictive mediation, psychological reactance, and undesirable outcomes. A curvilinear association emerged among active mediation and attitudes toward parents, although in a direction counter to predictions. Significant interactions did occur such that advanced age and increased trait reactance resulted in more intense perceptions of freedom threat in response to both restrictive and active mediation. Further, advanced age and restrictive mediation interacted to produce intensified reactance restoration intentions. Overall results of the study emphasize the importance of accounting for moderating factors and individual differences in parental mediation research and in making recommendations about how parents interact with their children about mediated messages.
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