Studies have consistently revealed adolescent disclosure as the strongest predictor of parental knowledge about adolescents’ companions, whereabouts, and behaviors. In turn, parental knowledge is linked to various positive adolescent outcomes. It therefore becomes important to understand what promotes adolescent disclosure to parents. Although intrapersonal predictors such as dispositional self-concealment have been identified as important predictors of disclosure in adult dyads, little is known about how personality dimensions affect youth disclosure to parents. The current study tested two main hypotheses: 1) that adolescent self-concealment would account for variation in self-disclosure to mothers, over and above the contribution of previously examined predictors of youth disclosure (i.e., maternal warmth and adolescent rule-breaking behavior) and 2) that parental trust would serve as an influencing variable between our independent variables (i.e., adolescent self-concealment, maternal warmth, and adolescent rule-breaking behavior) and adolescent self-disclosure. Each hypothesis was tested using adolescent and mother reports respectively.
Using a sample of 82 mother-adolescent dyads, two 2-step hierarchical regressions confirmed the first hypothesis. Self-concealment explained additional variance in adolescent self-disclosure above and beyond what had been accounted for by the variables entered at step 1 (maternal warmth and adolescent rule-breaking behavior) according to adolescent reports and also mother reports.
For our second hypothesis, structural equation modeling was used to test a model in which parental trust mediated the relationship between the aforementioned independent variables and adolescent self-disclosure. Neither final model (for adolescent or mother reports) revealed an indirect pathway between self-concealment and self-disclosure. For adolescent reports, the best-fitting approach to the model fit the data adequately, but only when direct paths were also included. For mother reports, the model fit the data relatively well with significant indirect links between maternal warmth, adolescent rule-breaking and adolescent self-disclosure (all mediated by maternal trust), and a direct significant relation between adolescent self-concealment and adolescent self-disclosure. Other models resulted in weaker fit, but informed our understanding of the potential role of trust as an influencing variable in adolescent self-disclosure and are thus discussed in further detail.