ISSN 2079-6617 (Print)
ISSN 2309-9828 (Online)
Ru | En
Russian Psychological Society
The Faculty of Psychology. Lomonosov Moscow State University.
Main RSS Search


Gorlova N.V. (2019). Autonomy conflicts resolution: theoretical approach to adolescents’ personal autonomy. National Psychological Journal, 1, 47-58


Background. One of theoretical approaches towards developmental tasks in adolescence is the study of personal autonomy. The modern fast-paced world expects adolescents to be independent and proactive.

The Objective is to study the overall state of the issue and to highlight the mostly discussed theoretical approaches to personal autonomy, to provide the reader with the detailed review of the approaches to personal autonomy from the view-point of autonomy conflict resolution.

Design. The analysis of various approaches to personal autonomy identified developmental sources of autonomy within intra- and in interpersonal ways. The paper discusses theoretical approaches to adolescent’s personal autonomy that considers conflict as a mechanism of development. The paper presents a model of psychological readiness to resolve autonomy conflicts that may disclose how conflicts are triggered and how they could be resolved within intra- and in interpersonal way.

Results. An analysis of classical and modern research has shown that personal autonomy is appropriated by adolescents through their resolution of conflicts in various areas of the psychological space. Based on the provisions of a number of theoretical approaches, it has been revealed that the core matter of conflicts is the contradiction “external control vs one's own will” and the contradiction “dependence vs independence”. The author proposes studying personal autonomy by drawing insights form psychological readiness of autonomy conflicts resolution using locus of control scale and also through the measurement of actual conflicts of autonomy and assertion as conflict resolution style using existential experience.

The author's vision of the personal autonomy of adolescents is based on the study of psychological readiness to resolve autonomy conflicts at the dispositional level. Conflict as a mechanism of development is a developmental crisis stage where contradictions could be removed. Diversity of classical and modern studies show that the autonomy is developed in adolescents through the resolution of conflicts in different spheres of psychological space. The social cognitive domain theory of J.G.Smetana and the theory of psychological sovereignty (S.K.Nartova-Bochaver) are discussed in detail. According to the theories under consideration, personal autonomy reveals in adolescents to a different degree and at different levels. In some domains, they are more independent, while they do not manifest independence in other psychological domains.

Conclusion. The approach to adolescents’ personal autonomy as autonomy conflict resolution in different psychological domains is described. Autonomy conflict resolution can be controlled or prohibited by close relatives, e.g. parents. The model of psychological readiness of autonomy conflict resolution may disclose how autonomy conflicts are triggered by and be resolved within intra- and in interpersonal way. The contradictions may be removed through autonomy conflict resolution.

Received: 02/13/2019
Accepted: 03/03/2019
Pages: 47-58
DOI: 10.11621/npj.2019.0105

Sections: Developmental Psychology;

PDF: /pdf/npj-no33-2019/npj_no33_2019_047-058.pdf

Keywords: adolescents; adolescence; personality autonomy; late adolescence; autonomy in child-parental relations;

Available Online 30.04.2019

Table 1. Model of psychological readiness to resolve conflicts of autonomy



Autonomy Conflict Resolution Markers

Contradictions at conflict base 

Levels of psychological readiness to resolve conflicts of autonomy

Dispositional (inside personality)

Conflict resolution in favour of autonomy assignment - internal locus of control

“External Control - Own Will”

Existential experience (межличностный)

Conflict resolution in favour of autonomy assignment: 1. “adolescent” autonomy conflicts have been important in the past; 2. “youth” conflicts of autonomy are important for the subjective present; 3. They resolve conflicts of autonomy defending their position.

“Dependence - Independence”


  1. Arnett J.J. (2000). Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. The American Psychologist55, 469–480. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.5.469
  2. Barber, B., Maughan, S., & Olsen, J. (2005). Patterns of parenting across adolescence. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 108, 5–15. doi:10.1002/cd.124
  3. Bochaver A.A., Zhilinskaya A.V., & Khlomov K.D. (2016). Prospects of modern adolescents in the context of life trajectory. [Sovremennaya zarubezhnaya psikhologiya], 5(2), 31–38. 
  4. Branje S. (2018). Development of Parent–Adolescent Relationships: Conflict Interactions as a Mechanism of Change. Child Development perspective12(3), 171–176. doi:10.1111/cdep.12278
  5. Branje, S., Laursen, B., & Collins, W.A. (2012). Parent–child communication during adolescence. In A. Vangelisti (Ed.) Routledge. Handbook of family communication(2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge, 271–286.
  6. Collins, W.A., & Laursen, B. (2004). Parent–adolescent relationships and influences. In R.M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.) Handbook of adolescent psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 331–361.doi:10.1002/9780471726746.ch11
  7. Collins, W. A., Laursen, B., Mortensen, N., Luebker, C., & Ferreira, M. (1997). Conflict processes and transitions in parent and peer relationships: Implications for autonomy and regulation. Journal of Adolescence, 12, 178–198. doi:10.1177/0743554897122003
  8. Darling, N., Cumsille, P., & Martı´nez, M.L. (2007). Adolescents as active agents in the socialization process: Legitimacy of parental authority and obligation to obey as predictors of obedience. Journal of Adolescence, 30, 297–311. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2006.03.003
  9. Darling, N., Cumsille, P., & Pen˜a-Alampay, L. (2005, Summer). Rules, legitimacy of parental authority, and obligation to obey in Chile, the Philippines, and the United States. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 108, 47–60.doi:10.1002/cd.127
  10. Ellsworth J’A. (1999, Summer). Today’s Adolescent: addressing existential dread. Adolescence, 34(134), 403–408. 
  11. Gavrilova T.A. (2010). A fear of death in Adolescence and Youth. [Voprosy psikhologii], 6, 63–71.
  12. Gavrilova T.A., & Shvets F.A. (2010). Awareness of personal mortality as formation factor of adolescent sense of maturity. [Voprosy psikhologii], 4, 37–44.
  13. Grishina N.V. (2015). Existential psychology in search of development vector. [Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya]8(42), 2. 
  14. Dragunova T.V. (1972). The problem of conflict in Adolescence. [Voprosy psikhologii]2, 37–42.
  15. Hadiwijaya, H.,Klimstra, T.A., Vermunt, J.K., Branje, S.J.T., & Meeus, W.H.J. (2017). On the Development of Harmony, Turbulence, and Independence in Parent–Adolescent Relationships: A Five-Wave Longitudinal Study. Journal of Youth Adolescence, 46, 1772–1788. doi:10.1007/s10964-016-0627-7
  16. Karabanova O.A. (2016). Parent-child relationship as a factor of professional self-identity in adolescence and early adulthood. Moscow University Psychology Bulletin. Series 14. Psychology, 3, 54–62. doi:10.11621/vsp.2016.03.54
  17. Keijsers, L., Frijns, T., Branje, S. J. T., & Meeus, W. (2009). Developmental links of adolescent disclosure parental solicitation and control with delinquency: Moderation by parental support. Developmental Psychology, 45, 1314–1327..doi:10.1037/a0016693
  18. Khasan B.I. (2003). Constructive psychology of conflict. Saint-Peterburg, Piter. 
  19. Khasan B.I. (1997). Ideal form of childhood and the problem of rates of developmental dynamics. [Pedagogika razvitiya: vozrastnaya dinamika i stupeni obrazovaniya : materialy 4-i nauchnoi-prakticheskoi konferentsii, chast 1. Doklady na plenarnykh zasedaniyakh, sektsiyakh i kruglykh stolakh. Pod red. I.D.Frumina, B.I.Khasana, B.D.El’konina.] Krasnoyarsk. 
  20. Khasan B.I., & Sergomanov P.A. (2004). Psychology of conflict and negotiations. Moscow, Akademiya. 
  21. Koloshina T.Yu. (2002). Art-therapy in therapy of critical states of personality and group, Ph.D. in Psychology, Thesis. Yaroslavl, 144.
  22. Kuhn, E., & Laird, R. (2011). Individual differences in early adolescents' belief in the legitimacy of parental authority. Developmental Psychology, 47, 1353–1365. doi:10.1037/a0024050
  23. Laursen, B., & Collins, A. W. (2009). Parent–adolescent relationships during adolescence. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.) Handbook of Adolescent Psychology, Vol. 2, 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 3–42. 
  24. Leontiev D.A. (2015). The challenge of uncertainty as the key issue of the psychology of personality. [Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya]. Vol. 8, 40, 2. Retrieved from: (in Russian, abstr. in English).
  25. Leontiev, D.A., Kaliteevskaya, E.R., & Osin, E.N. (2011). Personal potential in the transition from childhood to adulthood and becoming determination. In D.A. Leontiev (Eds.) [Lichnostnyy potentsial. Struktura i diagnostika]. Moscow.
  26. Martsinkovskaya T.D. (2014). Methodology of modern psychology: a change of paradigms?! [Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya], 7(36), 1. Retrieved from: (in Russian, abstr. in English).
  27. Martsinkovskaya T.D. (2015). Modern psychology – challenges of transitivity. [Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya], 8(42), 1. Retrieved from: (in Russian, abstr. in English).
  28. Mellado, C., Cumsille, P., & Martı´nez, M. L. (2018). Interactive associations of parental support, demands, and psychological control, over adolescents' beliefs about the legitimacy of parental authority. Journal of Adolescence, 64, 81–88. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2018.02.001
  29. Mlodik I. (2010). Existential givennesses of childhood or contradictory miracle that never repeat again. [EXISTENTIA: psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya],1 (3), 62–76. 
  30. Molchanov S.V., Poskrebysheva N.N., Zapunidi A.A., & Markina O.S. (2015). Development of Autonomy as a Precondition of Adolescents’ Orientation in Moral Sphere. [Кul’turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya]11(4), 22–29.
  31. Nartova-Bochaver S.K. (2008). Sovereign Man: psychological study of person in his existence. Saint-Peterburg, Piter. 
  32. Nartova-Bochaver S.K. (2014). The revised version of “The personal sovereignty questionnaire-2010”. [Psikhologicheskiy zhurnal],35(3), 105–119. 
  33. Novgorodtseva A.P. (2006). Inner conflicts in Adolescence. [Кul’turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya]. 3, 38–50. 
  34. Nucci L. P., Killen M., & Smetana J. G. (1996). Autonomy and the personal: Negotiation and social reciprocity in adult-child social exchanges. New Directions for Child Development, 73, 7–24.10.1002/cd.23219967303
  35. Pinquart, M., & Silbereisen, R. K. (2002). Changes in adolescents’ and mothers’ autonomy and connectedness in conflict discussions. An observation study. Journal of Adolescence, 25, 509–522. doi:10.1006/jado.2002.0491
  36. Polivanova K.N. (1999). Psychological analysis of developmental crises (according to the logic of cultural historical theory of L.S.Vygotsky): Sc.D in Psychology, Thesis. Moscow, 296. 
  37. Polivanova K.N. (2000). Psychology of developmental crises: textbook. Moscow, Akademiya. 
  38. Polivanova K.N. (1994). Psychological analysis of developmental crises. [Voprosy psikhologii],1, 61–69. 
  39. Poskrebysheva, N.N., & Karabanova, O.A. (2014). Developmental approach to the study of adolescent personal autonomy. National Psychological Journal,1, 74–85. doi:10.11621/npj.2014.0108
  40. Prikhozhan A.M. (1997). The problem of adolescent crisis. [Psikhologicheskaya nauka i obrazovanie], 1, 82–87. 
  41. Ryan, R.M. & Deci, E.L. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist,55, 68–78. .doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.1.68
  42. Shneider L.B. (2011). Professional self-determination of adolescents in attitudes to life, time and labour. [Na poroge vzrosleniya: sbornik nauchnykh statei]Moscow, MGPPU. 
  43. Smetana, J. G. (1989). Adolescents’ and parents’ reasoning about actual family conflict. Child Development, 60, 1052–1067. .doi:10.2307/1130779
  44. Smetana J.G. (2011). Adolescents, families, and social development: how teens construct their worlds. West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell. 
  45. Smetana J.G. (2018). Constructing Autonomy in the Context of Adolescent-Parent Relationships. Report on XVI biennial meeting of European Association for Research on Adolescence.Ghent, Ghent University
  46. Smetana, J. G., Campione Barr, N., & Daddis, C. (2004). Longitudinal development of decision making: Defining healthy behavioral autonomy for middle-class African American adolescents. Child Development, 75, 1418–1434. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2004.00749.x
  47. Smetana, J. G., Crean, H. F., & Campione-Barr, N. (2005, Summer). Adolescents’ and parents’ changing conceptions of parental authority. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development,108, 31–46. . doi:10.1002/cd.126
  48. Smetana J.G. & Daddis C. (2002, March/April)Domain-Specific Antecedents of Parental Psychological Controland Monitoring: The Role of Parenting Beliefs and Practices. Child Development, 73(2), 563–580..doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00424
  49. Soenens B., Vansteenkiste M., Van Petegem S., Beyers W., RyanR. (2018). How to solve the conundrum of adolescent autonomy? On the importance of distinguishing between independence and volitional functioning: Autonomy in Adolescent Development: Towards Conceptual Clarity. In B.Soenens, M. Vansteenkiste, S. Van Petegem (Eds.). London, UK: Routledge, 1-32. 
  50. Steinberg, L. (2001). We know some things: Adolescent–parent relationships in retrospect and prospect. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 11, 1–19. doi:10.1111/1532-7795.00001
  51. Tolstykh N.N. (2015). Modern maturation. [Konsul'tativnaya psikhologiya i psikhoterapiya],23(4), 7–24. 
  52. Yalom I. (2015). Existential psychotherapy. Moscow, Klass. 
  53. Zimmer-Gembeck M.J., &Collins W.A. (2006). Autonomy Develop­ment during Adolescence. In G.R. Adams &M.D. Berzonsky (Eds.) Blackwell Handbook of Adolescence. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 175–204. doi:10.1002/9780470756607.ch9
  54. Zimmer-Gembeck M., Madsen S.D., & Hanisch M. (2011). Connecting the intrapersonal to the interpersonal: Autonomy, voice, parents, and romantic relationships in emerging adulthood. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 8(5), 509–525. doi: 10.1080/17405629.2011.567061
  55. Znakov V.V. (2011). Understanding, comprehension and existential experience. [Voprosy psikhologii],6, 15–24.

For citing this article:

Gorlova N.V. (2019). Autonomy conflicts resolution: theoretical approach to adolescents’ personal autonomy. National Psychological Journal, 1, 47-58

About Editorial Board Volumes Authors For Authors Indexing Contacts

National Psychological Journal, 2006 - 2020