The Exploration of Maternal Perception of Compliance in Adolescents

  • Anton James

Student thesis: Phd


Objective: To explore 'Maternal Perception of Compliance in Adolescents Model.' The purpose of the model is to explore interrelated factors outside adolescents' agency, but which contribute to maternal perception of severity of compliance in adolescents. This model was originated from reflections on the practice of psychology. Methodology: This inquiry began with pilot studies consisting of a focus group with four parents and an interview. The pilot assisted the fine-tuning the instrument, addressing ethical concerns, forming analytical strategies and gathering a priori themes for the analysis of data from the thesis. The thesis is a qualitative inquiry, data was collected through interviews and utilised a 'maximum variation sampling' of ethnicity (Asian, White, and Black) with socioeconomic status (SES) (low, medium, and high), to recruit six mothers who had adolescent children. Analysis: There was a hybrid approach to the thematic analysis: a) in 'confirmatory analysis,' a priori themes were deductively confirmed and b) in 'exploratory analysis,' new emergent themes were inductively identified. In the first part of the analysis each participant's data was individually analysed, using the hybrid method, to explore the factors that contributed to the model. The second part of the analysis was a 'cross-case analysis,' in which factors identified as contributing to the model, in the first part of the analysis were consolidated to further explore the model. Results: Various types of knowledge (self-reflective, observational, academic, transgenerational, maternal), notions of an ideal child, expectations, style of parenting, style of attribution, maternal anxiety, SES, and single-motherhood were identified as having an effect on the model. In terms of exploration of the model: a) The expectations were largely affected by maternal ideals and standards about adolescents. b) These ideals and standards were derived from their previously acquired knowledge. c) Mothers used the resources at their disposal based on their SES and authoritative parenting style to nurture the child toward their notion of an ideal child. d) The maternal anxiety/single mother/permissive parenting style and some types of knowledge affected the expectation of degree of compliance. e) Mothers often rationalised or justified children's noncompliance through a system called the 'mediating mechanism.' f) Some types of knowledge, mixed parenting style, and external attribution were involved in the 'mediating mechanism.' g) Maternal perception of the extent of adolescents' compliance was based on their degree of expectation of compliance, i.e. the more divergence between the expectations and perception of compliance, the more severe or problematic the perception of compliance. h) Maternal views on compliance varied between mothers, based on their parenting styles. Conclusions: Maternal perception of severity of compliance is not entirely based on children's actual behaviour; rather it is influenced by number of factors that are outside the children's agency. The model, which illustrates how maternal perception of severity of compliance is formed, could have a significant impact on diagnosis and treatment options for compliance related disorders. The subjective diagnostic criteria for evaluating compliance in the DSM-5, augment this complexity in diagnosis and treatment. A larger scale replication of the study is warranted to elicit generalisation.
Date of Award31 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGarry Squires (Supervisor) & Michael Wigelsworth (Supervisor)


  • expectations
  • ideal child
  • parenting style
  • knowledge
  • adolescents
  • compliance
  • maternal perception

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