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Durham e-Theses
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Understanding Adolescents’ Aggression towards Parents:
A Study on the Role of Callous-Unemotional Traits
in Predicting Aggression

KUAY, HUE,SAN (2018) Understanding Adolescents’ Aggression towards Parents:
A Study on the Role of Callous-Unemotional Traits
in Predicting Aggression.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis explores an under researched area of adolescents’ aggression towards parents. Chapter One includes the literature on child-to-parent aggression and a new model is proposed to explain these incidences. Chapter Two draws on data from two clinical audits to provide an overview of the prevalence of aggression within the family perpetrated by adolescents from a clinical (n=60) and forensic (n=60) samples of those referred to a mental health service. The results indicated parents as the main adult victims of child aggression. The forensic sample used physical aggression more than verbal aggression. Smaller numbers of aggression were recorded for the clinical sample. Chapter Three examines whether Callous-Unemotional (CU) traits may relate to special school adolescents’ (n=48) tendency to perpetrate aggression towards parents and peers. Adolescents with elevated CU traits tend to perpetrate aggression indiscriminately towards parents and peers compared to their low CU peers. Chapter Four included a small sample from the general population (n=60), exploring the potential risk factors of child-to-parent aggression, taking into account the levels of CU traits. Stressful life events increase the manifestation of CU traits in adolescents, consequently increasing their aggression towards both parents. Adolescents with high CU traits show goal-oriented motivation which tends to be related to aggression towards mother. At low level of these traits, aggression towards mother was more impulsive. Chapter Five outlined the findings from qualitative interviews with parents of adolescents from a forensic mental health service. The sample (n=5) was categorised according to the level of prosocial emotions of the young perpetrators. Thematic analyses were conducted on the transcripts and four themes emerged and were developed. Across all studies, the young perpetrators who scored higher on CU traits perpetrated physical more than verbal aggression towards both parents and peers. Thus, they are what may be termed as ‘generalist aggressors’.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Science > Psychology, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:20 Apr 2018 15:17

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