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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Emotion as energiser in parent-adolescent projects during the transition to adulthood Lee, Celine Si Min


Research on emotion in parent and child relationship has been largely limited to quantitative studies that do not capture the experience of emotion. This qualitative study sought to answer the question, “How does emotion serve to establish, maintain, disrupt and/or repair interaction between parent and adolescent in their interactions about the transition to adulthood?” Transcripts and video recordings of four parent-adolescent dyads from a larger transition-to-adulthood study were used. This secondary analysis, using the case study method, was guided by the contextual action theory framework in order to describe the role of emotion in parent-adolescent interactions and projects relating to the transition-to-adulthood. Eight identified emotion categories were used in coding the transcripts, based on indicators according to Gottman’s “Specific Affect Coding System”. The identified emotions in the moment-to-moment interactions between parents and adolescents and their self-confrontation interviews were organised by their function and process level. That is, whether the emotion was a manifest behaviour; an appraisal or steering process; or at the level of meaning in the joint or individual goal(s) of parents and adolescents. The role of emotion was demonstrated by how it served and/or contributed to different outcomes depending on how the emotion was experienced. The findings illustrated that emotion was an important factor in the co-construction of the parent-adolescent relationship as parents and adolescents are engaged in the transition-to-adulthood process. For example, even though less desirable emotions such as anger disrupted parent-adolescent interaction at the level of behaviour, emotion still functioned to energise their projects. At different levels, emotion energised the joint action between parents and adolescents, their steering processes and goals, to establish, maintain, disrupt and/or repair their interactions and projects differently. This study lends support to the need for the use of a qualitative framework to understand the complex phenomenon of emotion. From the counselling psychology perspective, the findings of this study provide insight to practitioners on the experience of emotion from the individual perspectives of parents and adolescents and emotion as a joint experience.

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