Statement of problem and conceptual framework

This chapter includes some of the parts which may lead to more understanding toward the topic will presented. The parts include statement of problem, conceptual framework, purpose of the study, significance of study, research questions and hypothesis, and terminology definitions.

There are many issues arising among adolescents and this may due to the transitional development or the influences of environment. There is a lot of explanation towards the adolescents’ maladaptive behaviors. Adolescents may face a lot of obstacles which will block them to develop healthy thinking and behaviors in future. Aggressive behavior is one of the problems that adolescents may engage in and family factor play an important role towards it.

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In the transition period of childhood to adolescence, or adolescence to adulthood, they may face a lot of problems such as hormones changes, maturation of mind changes, school and home environment changes, stress level increase, and so on. All of these changes may contribute to the problem behaviors of adolescents. One of the important aspect is the parenting styles that utilized by parents toward their adolescent child should be changed. Parents should give more freedom and authority to their child in the transition period.

According to the study of Finkenauer, Engels & Baumeister (2005), it stated that parents have a direct influence on adolescents’ behaviors. Parental behaviors such as parental support, strict control, and monitoring children activities have related to adolescents’ problem behaviors. However, parents’ behaviors also have indirect influence on adolescents’ delinquency behavior. Appropriate parenting skills can strengthen and improve the capability of adolescents to control their thinking and behaviors. For example, adolescents whose parents use authoritative parenting style may have higher self-control capability compare with others who are not. This can indirectly reduce adolescents’ problem behaviors.

According to the Bronfenbrenner ecological theory, parents or family play as a first role in the context to interact and communicate with their children. Thus, they may influence their child regarding to their moral attitudes, thinking, feeling, and behaviors. As a conclusion, based on Bronfebrenner ecological theory, parents is the first source to influence adolescents’ behaviors with directly or indirectly compare with other sources.

Problem Statement

There are a lot of aggression studies conducted by researchers especially in western country. The issue of aggression is arising and spreading in the whole society but not only in western country. In Malaysia, a lot of aggression cases have happened and it is from mild to serious level. The most serious aggression case was happened in Royal Military College (RMC), Sungai Besi. A 16-year-old student died due to the reason that he has been bullied and physical abused by his seniors who are 17-year-old at the camp. Five of the bullies forced him to do push-ups when kicking and stepping on him.

Besides that, an issue of adolescents’ problems behavior has occurred in a secondary school at Rawang. According to The Star in 5th May, 2010, students form a gang and behave in several unacceptable behaviors in and out of the school. They form a gang to skip class and loitering, bully students in school, engaged in vandalism activities, and others.

The problems as stated above has arising and thus, studies and researches about adolescents’ aggression need to be conducted. This study aims to study about this issue in the aspect of parenting styles influences on adolescent’s aggressive behaviors. Besides that, the gender differences, level and types of adolescents’ aggression also being measured in this study.

Research Question:

Is there any significant gender difference towards aggression?

Is there any significant ethnic difference towards aggression?

Is there any significant relationship between family income and adolescent aggression?

Is there any significant parent’s educational level difference towards adolescent aggression?

Is there any significant parenting styles difference towards adolescent aggression?

Is self-control served as a mediating variable between parenting styles and adolescents’ aggression?

What is the predictor significantly contributed to adolescents’ aggression?

Significance of study

A lot of aggression cases have happened in our society especially in secondary schools. The newspapers have showed that there are different aggression cases performed by secondary school students. The finding and analysis from this study may explain how the social factors are making influences on adolescents’ aggressive behaviors. This may benefit to the schools, adolescents themselves, parents, and whole society.

Finding from this study can as a reference to all related experts in our country to conduct therapy according to the issue. Adolescent psychologist and psychiatrist can understand the issue more deeply such as how the parenting and peer pressures can influences on adolescents’ aggressive behaviors.

Besides that, this study may benefit to school counselors and teachers also. They can pay attention to the maladaptive behaviors of adolescents in school. Counselors may use appropriate skills and techniques to assist adolescents avoid falling in the aggressive behaviors. Teachers in school will not adopt bias attitude towards adolescents who engage in aggressive behavior after they have understood well about the problem. Some of the programs can be suggested to assist those adolescents able to manage and cope with their aggressive behaviors effectively.

Parents may pay an effort in their behaviors and parenting skills to improve the relationship between them and their adolescent child. Prosocial behaviors of adolescents may be improved due to the good interaction and communication between them and their parents. This study will make the whole society to know more about the topic related to adolescents’ social development. Overall, this proposed study will benefit the adolescents, researchers, and whole society as well.

Purposes of Study

A lot of the bullying cases have been happening in the secondary school and it always become the issue which discussed by all society members. There is a lot of reasons lead to this problematic behavior. One of the reasons is adolescent adopted an aggressive thinking and behaviors as well. There were a lot of studies had been conducted by researchers which aimed to examine the variety factors of the aggressive behavior among adolescents. Some of the studies also have examined on the relationship between the aggressive factors and behaviors as well.

Instead of examines all of the factors, this study will only focus on the social factors which is parenting styles. Parents play an important role in adolescents’ life. So, this study will examine the influences of this factor on the adolescent aggression.

For the parenting styles, this study would like to examine the influences of each style on the adolescent aggression. According to Sharma & Sandhu (2006), there are three major types of parenting styles can be used to explain the ways that the parents use to interact with their child. The three types of parenting styles are authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. Most of the previous studies have stated that there was a significant difference between the parenting styles and adolescent aggression.

This study also tends to examine Self-control as a mediator of parenting styles and aggression. Self-control aims to measure the level of adolescents’ control over their impulse thinking, behaviors, emotions, and refrain from acting them to undesirable situations. Adolescents who adopted high self-control may not easily fall into the aggressive thinking and behaviors.

Other than that, the parents’ income and ethnic influence toward adolescent aggression also be explored in this study. According to Roche, Ensminger, Chilcoat & Storr (20023), the result showed that low family income was associated with adolescent high aggressive behaviors. This study would like to re-examine the results which have showed by the previous study. The effect of parents’ educational level towards the adolescent aggression also will be examined. Lastly, this study will give the idea that how gender differences in the level and types of aggressive behaviors.


Hypothesis 1: There is a significant gender difference towards types of aggression.

Hypothesis 2: There is a significant gender difference towards aggression level.

Hypothesis 3: There is no significant ethnic difference towards types of aggression.

Hypothesis 4: There is no significant ethnic difference towards aggression level.

Hypothesis 5: There is a significant negative relationship between family income and adolescent


Hypothesis 6: There is a significant parents’ educational level difference towards adolescent


Hypothesis 7: There is a significant parenting styles difference toward male adolescent


Hypothesis 8: There is a significant parenting styles difference toward female adolescent


Hypothesis 9: There is a significant negative relationship between adolescents’ self-control and

adolescents’ aggression.

Hypothesis 10: Self-control served as a mediating variable between parenting styles and

adolescents’ aggression.

Hypothesis 11: Regression coefficients for the parenting styles is significant when regressed

against adolescents’ aggression.


Conceptual definition of aggressive behavior. Berkowitz (1993) defined aggression as a willful behavior act by an individual with the purpose of bringing harm to other people (Marchetti, 2007). Van der Ploeg (1997) defined aggressive behavior as “injuring others, attacking and threatening them with mental or physical violence. It includes bullying, arguing, fighting, disobedient, unruly behavior, and irritability (Knorth, Klomp, Van den Bergh & Noom, 2007).

However, according to Braine (1995), aggressive behavior defined as intentional acts, with the potential harm, committed by an individual in an aroused physical state, and perceive as aversive by the victim. In this definition, it not only explained the component of physical behaviors but also related the component of cognitive by including the term “intentions”. Besides that, this definition avoids to explain aggressive behavior by consequences of damaging only but also explained it as the potential to harm others. Thus, both direct and indirect form of aggression also can be explained by this definition (Cohen, Hsueh, Russell & Ray, 2006).

Operational definition of aggressive behavior. The Aggression Questionnaire which developed by Buss & Perry (1992) is use to measure the level of adolescents’ aggressive behaviors. There are four subscales in this questionnaire to measure four different types of aggressive behavior. They are physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, and hostility. Each subscale used Likert Scale as1=disagree, 2=disagree, 3=somewhere agree and disagree, 4=agree, and 5=strongly disagree; to measure the aggression. The range of aggression total scores is from 29 to 125. The higher aggression scores reflex that the respondents adopted higher aggression.

Conceptual definition of parenting style. According to Darling & Steinberg (1993), they defined parenting style as a mechanism used by parents to socialize with their children to achieve specific socialization goals. Socialization behaviors help child to learn and exhibit specific effective skills, behaviors and characteristics. For instance, good skills and behaviors are self-regulation and independence. Parenting styles explain how parents socialize with their children (Murray, 2008).

Early work towards parenting style by Diane Baumrind (1967, 1971) classified parents have three parenting styles, which are authoritative, authoritarian, and indulgent-permissive. Authoritative parenting style is the most positive and effective styles towards outcomes of children. Authoritative parents are willing to give responsive to child’s needs, open communication, and give encourage to their child as well (Murray, 2008).

According to Kim (2008), Hartup (1985) defined parenting style as an interaction between parents and child that can help children acquire some positive skills. The skills included problem solving skill, language and impulse control, proper social interaction and expectations. These skills can reduce the chance of adolescents engage in maladaptive behavior such as aggressive behavior.

Operational definition of parental style.

Conceptual definition of self-control.

Self-control defined as the capability of one to override and inhibit socially unacceptable and undesirable impulse, alter and regulate his or her thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Self-control as a conscious effort that can prevent to act out some behaviors or avoid something to happens (Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994; Carver & Scheier, 1998; Muraven & Baumeister, 2000; Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004 in Finkenauer, Engels & Baumeisster, 2005).

According to Eisenberg et al. (2003), self-control is related to effortful control. Effortful control defined as “the process of voluntarily initiating, avoiding, inhibiting, maintaining, or modulating the occurrence, intensity, or duration of feeling states” (Finkenauer, Engels & Baumeisster, 2005). In another words, a person can control and alter themselves if they willing to.

According to W. Mischel (1974, 1981), self-control also been defined as the delay of gratification. She suggested that a person may able to forgo an immediate and undesirable outcome to attain more preferred outcome in the future. Self-control may increase when the age of one increase.

. Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice in 1994 and Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone in 2004 have defined self control as a process of overriding or modifying one own inner responses including impulse, emotions, thoughts, emotions, or behavioral (Bertrams & Dickhauser, 2009). This means, people who have higher self-control capacity may better to restrain their impulse, control their emotion expression, avoid attention from distraction, and focus on the undesirable but important task. As a conclusion, high self-control capacity is benefit to one to avoid acting or thinking in an aggressive way (Bertrams & Dickhauser, 2009).

Operational definition of self-control. Self-control of adolescents will be measured by Brief Self-Control Scale (BSCS-Tangney, Baumeister & Boone, 2004). This scale tends to measure the ability of respondents to override or change their inner responses, interrupt undesired behaviors tendencies and refrain from acting on them. The higher scores gain from the scale means that the higher level of self-control respondents have.

Limitation of Study

This study will use self-report questionnaires as a method to collect data. Some of the adolescents may not take it seriously and this will influences their answers in this study. Besides that, some of them may not return the questionnaires back and this may cause missing data in study.

Another limitation such as total numbers of questions in the questionnaire may influence the performances of adolescents. Normally, researchers would like to use more than one method or set of questionnaires to collect information from respondents. It is because they can get more information through the methods or questionnaires. However, there may have a limitation. In this study, six set of questionnaires will used to collect data, they are respondents’ demographic form, parenting questionnaire, parental behaviors questionnaire, peer pressure questionnaire, self-control questionnaire, and aggression questionnaire. All of these questionnaires may make adolescents feel boring and stress to answer it with patiently.

Lastly, this study will be conducted at three secondary schools around Kuala Lumpur. Form two and form four students will be selected to participate in this study due to the reason that form three and form five students are busying to prepare their examination. There may have a lot of revision classes arranged for them to have a well preparation in examination. Thus, all grades of students won’t be involved in this study.

Conceptual Framework of Study

Personal Background

– Age

– Ethnicity

– Gender

Antecedent Variables Independent Variables Mediating Variable Dependent Variables


Aggressive Behavior

1. Parenting Styles

2. Inter-Parental Conflicts


Family Demographic

– Parent’s marital


– Parent’s monthly


– Parent’s

educational level

Figure 1: Conceptual framework for a study on “Parents Influences toward Adolescents’

Aggressive Behaviors”.



Types of Aggression

There are two forms of aggression which are physical aggression and relational aggression. Physical aggression defined as an intention to hurt others using physical force or the threat of physical harm. Hitting, pushing, and kicking are examples of physical aggression (Dodge et al., 2006 in Ostrov, Ries, Stauffacher, Godleski & Mullins, 2006). According to Crick & Grotpeter (1995), relational aggression is a form of aggression that harms others through damage, threat, or control peer relationship of others. The act of relational aggression includes spreading rumors, gossiping about a peer, and withdrawing attention of one from his or her peers (Ostrov, Ries, Stauffacher, Godleski & Mullins, 2006).

Different with the views of Dodge et al., (2006), Kikas, Peets, Tropp & Hinn (2009) suggested that there are two forms of aggression, which are direct aggression and indirect aggression. Direct form of aggression includes physical aggression and verbal aggression, and indirect form of aggression includes relational aggression.

According to Miller & Lynam (2006), aggression can be dividing to two types which are reactive and proactive aggression. Reactive aggression (RA) can be explained as the acts which will behave by a person when he or she in negative affective states such as anger and frustration. Besides that, it also can be defined as the acts behave by a person to response to provocation. It means that, RA is occurred in passive way instead of the active way. According to Miller & Lynam (2006), RA can be explained by the frustration-aggression model, which means that frustration may lead to aggression (Berkowitz, 1988).

Another type of aggression is proactive aggression (PA). It is an active way to behave the aggression to reach the specific goal that is desired. PA can be understood with explanation of social learning model (Bandura, 1983). For instance, a child would like to threat others to get some money after he or she had observed their parent did the same thing (Miller & Lynam, 2006).

Inter-Parental Conflict and Aggression

According to Esfandyari, Baharudin, & Nowzari (2009), there were some externalizing behavior problems such as aggressive behavior and substance abuse adopted by adolescents. The inter-parental conflict was having direct or indirect influences on the adolescents’ externalizing behavior problems. Inter-parental conflict includes adolescent-father conflict, adolescent-mother conflict, and inter-parental conflict as well. Inter-parental conflict has significant impact on the adolescent aggressive behavior and their academic performances as well. Children or adolescent who witness the violence between their parents will have poor relationship with their parents. Children or adolescent who have poor relationship with their parents might have relationship problems with others. This will lead to behavioral problems among adolescent.

According to Moretti, Obsuth, Odgers & Reebye (2006), inter-parental conflict may play an important role to adolescent aggression. The children who have witnessed the conflict between their parents would like to learn about the aggressive behavior as well. This can be explained by the Bandura’s social learning theory.

There were 112 adolescents participated in the study and the age range was from 13 to 18 years old. The Family Background Questionnaire which created by McGee et al. (1997) was used. Besides that, The Conflict Tactics Scale (Straus, 1979) and The Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents-IV (Reich et al., 1997) were used also.

The result showed that, girls have higher level of exposure to the maternal aggression compare with boys. In another words, girls have witnessed their mother used aggressive ways to treat their father. The result also stated that there was 42% girls reported that their father has thrown something to their mother and only 19% boys reported about it. In addition, boys and girls reported that they have no physical aggression towards their parents. However, boys reported that they involved in the physical aggression towards their friends. For the girls, they involved in physical aggression towards their partners (Moretti, Obsuth, Odgers & Reebye, 2006).

Parenting and Aggression

In the study of Sharma & Sandhu (2006), it examined the parenting styles and its influences on adolescent aggressive behavior. In this study, it explained that parenting practice such as warmth, support and concern to their children will lead to less behavioral problems in children. In additional, it also stated that boys have higher aggression compare to girls.

240 parents and children who were 6 to 8 and 12 to 14 years old were participated in this study. Parents were invited to answer the “Parenting styles and dimensions questionnaire” and the children were asked to answer the “Child behavior checklist”. The result showed that, boys have higher aggression, ODD, and conduct disorder compare with girls. Other than that, the parenting styles such as verbal hostility, indulgence, physical coercion, punitiveness, and autonomy were positively correlated with children externalizing behavior.

According to the study of Yahav (2006), it aimed to study the relationship between children’s and adolescents’ external and internal symptoms and their perceptions of parenting behaviors. There were 159 children between ages 10 to 17 years have participated in the study. All of the respondents were from middle class family and their parents were between ages 30 to 35 years. All of the respondents have divided into five groups. The first group was comprised 35 externalizing children and second group was comprised 46 internalizing children. The rest of the three groups were set as control groups. One of the control group was comprised the non-symptomatic children and another two control groups was comprised of the siblings of externalizing children and the siblings of internalizing children.

This study was used the instruments such as The Achenbach Youth Self-Report (YSR) and The Family Relations Self-Report (FRSR). The results showed that symptomatic children get the higher maternal rejection scores compare to control groups. Externalizing children scores higher maternal rejection scores compare with internalizing children as well. For paternal rejection, both externalizing and internalizing children showed no differences towards the scores. However, symptomatic children have scored higher than control group in perceptions of paternal rejection. Externalizing children scored high in father’s overprotection than control groups’ children but showed no differences with internalizing children. Both Internalizing and control groups’ children showed no significant differences towards the scores of father overprotection. Externalizing children showed difference from control groups towards the father’s favoritism. There are no significant differences of all groups toward mother’s favoritism.

The results of study also showed that there was a significant difference of symptomatic and their non-symptomatic siblings towards paternal and maternal rejection, paternal and maternal overprotection, and parental favoritism. Symptomatic children scored higher than their non-symptomatic siblings in all of these categories.

This study showed how the perceptions of children towards their parents’ parenting styles might affect to their development of maladaptive behaviors. As a conclusion, symptomatic children might receive negative parenting styles and parenting styles is very important in the well-being development of children.

Control Capabilities and Aggression

In 2009, Winstok have conducted a study which investigated the associations between control capabilities and aggression. The control capabilities were divided to two categories, which were self-control and need to control others. The participants were selected from the School of Social Work at the University of Haifa, and the Haifa Municipality’s Department of Education and Welfare. There were 334 (50.6%) boys participated in the study and 326 were girls (49.4%). The average age was 14.99 years. All of the participants grouped into three groups regarding to their age. Participants were asked to tell their conflict experiences in the interview. The causes and methods of solving the conflict were asked to the participants to determine the types of aggression that they had adopted. Then, the participants were asked three sentences in two of the control capability, which were “self-control” and “need to control other”. The result showed that, self-control capabilities had negative effect on reactive aggression whereas the need to control others had a positive effect on proactive aggression.

Finkenauer, Engels & Baumeisster (2005) measured how the self-control as mediating to affect the relationship between parenting styles and child-adolescents aggressive behaviors. There were 1359 boys and girls from 10-14 years old participated in this study. Questionnaires used include Parenting style index, self-control developed by Tangney et al. (2004), Perceived Stress Scale, Kandel Depression Scale and Youth Self-Report. The results showed that psychological control was positively associated with aggressive behavior and parental strict control was negatively associated with aggressive behavior. Parental acceptance was having negative relationship with aggression behavior. The result also showed that high level of parental acceptance and low level of parental psychological control were related to self-control. Parental strict control was not contributed to adolescents’ self-control. The beta value of parental acceptance and parental psychological control has reduced when self-control entered to step 2. This reflexes that self-control play a mediating role between parenting style and adolescents’ aggressive behavior.



Research Design

This study will use non-experimental research to collect data from participants. Cluster Random Sampling will be used in this study. Simple random sampling method will used when select the

secondary schools and classes that researcher need.

Location and Participants

Secondary schools which consist of Malay, Chinese and Indian students will be selected to participate in this study. This is because students in secondary schools are suitable and appropriate in this study. Researcher can get enough students from these schools as well. Participants who age between 13 and 17 year old will be selected to participate in this study.


Questionnaires will include Malay and English version. All of the questionnaires will be translated to Malay version from original English version. Then, pilot-test will be conducted by distributing thirty set of questionnaires to adolescents. After that, reliability and validity analysis will be done. If the questionnaires show high or acceptable value of validity and reliability, they will be distributed to all students who will be selected. Researcher will deal with counselors and teachers in schools aim to get assistance from them to distribute the questionnaires. The time and classes will arranged by counselors and teachers in schools. Questionnaires will be collected back immediately after all the students have finished it.


There are totally five set of questionnaires used in this study. There are respondents’ demographic form, parenting styles questionnaire, parental behaviors questionnaire, self-control questionnaire, and adolescents’ aggression questionnaire.

Demographic form. Demographic form will distribute to respondents to gather their information such as gender, age, ethnic, parents’ monthly income, parents’ occupation, parents’ marital status, and parents’ educational level.

Parenting styles. Parenting styles will be measured by using Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ-Robinson, Mandleco, Olsen & Hart, 1995). This questionnaire consists of 32 items and it includes seven parenting dimensions which are Connection, Autonomy, Regulation, Verbal Hostility, Physical Coercion, Non Reasoning/Punitive, and Indulgence. Connection, regulation, and autonomy are authoritative parenting style; authoritarian parenting style includes verbal hostility, physical coercion, and non-reasoning. Lastly, the permissive pattern consisted of indulgence dimension.

Self-control. Self-control of adolescents will be measured by Brief Self-Control Scale (BSCS-Tangney, Baumeister & Boone, 2004). This scale is a 13 item self-report measurement and it tends to measure the ability to override or change one’s inner responses, interrupt undesired behaviors tendencies and refrain from acting on them.

Aggression. Adolescents’ aggression will be measured by using The Aggression Questionnaire (AQ-Buss & Perry, 1992). It consist of 29 items and answered by a 5-point scale (1=strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=somewhere agree and disagree, 4=agree, and 5=strongly disagree). There are four subscales in AQ, which are physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, and hostility. All items can be combined into aggression total scores, which range from 29 to 125.

Data analysis

The data collected will be analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences for version 16.0 (SPSS 16). Descriptive statistic will used to analyze respondents’ personal background information and parents’ demographic information. Inferential statistic will used in this study as well.

One-way ANOVA will used to analyze ethnic differences in aggression types and aggressive level. Besides that, it also uses to measure the differences of parents’ educational level towards adolescents’ aggression. Parenting styles differences in adolescents’ aggression will be analyze by using One-way ANOVA as well.

T-test will be used when analyzing the gender differences in aggression level, and Chi-square will used as well to analyze gender differences in types of aggression. Pearson correlation will use to analyze the relationship between parents’ monthly income and adolescents’ aggression, and relationship between self-control and adolescents’ aggression as well. Multiple Regression will be used to analyze whether self-control play a role as mediating variable between parenting styles and adolescents’ aggression. Besides that, Multiple

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