Exploring Processes in Day-to-Day Parent–Adolescent Conflict and Angry Mood: Evidence for Circular Causality

Emily J. LoBraico, Miriam Brinberg, Nilam Ram, Gregory M. Fosco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Parent–adolescent conflict has been studied both as a precursor of long-term macrolevel developmental risks and as an outcome of microlevel, moment-to-moment interaction patterns. However, the family-level processes underlying the maintenance or regulation of conflict in daily life are largely overlooked. A meso-level understanding of parent–adolescent conflict offers important practical insights that have direct implications for interventions. The present study explores day-to-day reciprocal processes and carryover in parents’ and adolescents’ experiences of anger and conflict. Daily diary data provided by parent–adolescent dyads (N = 151) from two-caregiver households (adolescents: 61.59% female, mean age = 14.60 years) over 21 days were examined using a multivariate Poisson multilevel model to evaluate the circular causality principle in parents’ and adolescents’ daily conflict and anger. Findings offer empirical support for the theory, suggesting that parents’ and adolescents’ anger and conflict exist together in a feedback loop wherein conflict is both a consequence of past anger and also an antecedent of future anger, both within and across persons. Increased understanding of the daily interaction patterns and maintenance of parent–adolescent conflict can guide more informed, targeted, and well-timed interventions intended to ameliorate the consequences of problematic parent–adolescent conflict sequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1706-1721
Number of pages16
JournalFamily Process
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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