Misattributions contributing to empathic (in)accuracy during parent-adolescent conflict discussions

Alan Sillars, Traci Smith, Ascan Koerner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


This research examined the content of self-reported thoughts and thoughts attributed to others during video-assisted recall of parent-adolescent conflict discussions. We hypothesized that parents and adolescents tend to frame family conflicts differently and thereby misattribute certain thoughts to one another. Coded thoughts revealed that parents over-attributed negative and avoidance thoughts to adolescents, overlooked admissions by adolescents, and over-attributed agreement to their spouse, relative to the thoughts that others reported for self. Conversely, adolescents over-attributed controlling thoughts to parents. Parents and adolescents focused on different aspects of the discussions, with parents thinking more about interaction processes and adolescents thinking more about content issues. Both seemed to lack meta-awareness of this difference.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-747
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • adolescent
  • communication
  • conflict
  • empathic accuracy
  • parent
  • parent-child conflict
  • understanding


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