Who's the boss? Patterns of perceived control in adolescents' friendships

Kimberly A. Updegraff, Heather M. Helms, Susan M. McHale, Ann C. Crouter, Shawna M. Thayer, Lara H. Sales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


This study examined the nature and correlates of different patterns of perceived control in adolescents' relationships with their best friends. Participants included firstborn adolescents (M = 14.94 years), their younger siblings (M = 12.44 years) and both their mothers and fathers in 163 families as well as a best friend of each adolescent (M = 15 years). Data were collected from family members during home visits regarding adolescents' family relationships, friendships, and psychosocial adjustment; time use data were gathered during a series of 7 nightly phone interviews. Information was obtained from best friends during a brief phone interview. We developed a typology of 3 different patterns of perceived friendship control based on the combination of adolescents' and their best friends' ratings of relational control. Patterns of control in adolescents' friendships were associated with the distribution of control in both parents' marriages and adolescents' sibling relationships. Further analyses, designed to test developmental predictions, revealed connections between friendship control and other qualities of adolescents' friendships (i.e., intimacy, conflict, perspective-taking).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-420
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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