The effects of family conflict on preadolescents' psychological needs and externalizing behaviour
To some extent all families experience family conflict; however, the concern is when it has an effect on preadolescents (age 10-12), behaviorally and psychologically. Preadolescence is a period marked by pubertal, emotional and behavioural changes. Family conflict may intensify preadolescents' experience of managing difficult situations. Self-determination theorists suggest that in order to have good mental health, basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence and relatedness) need to be met. Literature suggests that family conflict shapes behaviour and thus plays a pivotal role in externalizing behaviour (aggressive and antisocial behaviours). This study aimed to determine the effects of family conflict on preadolescents' basic psychological needs and externalizing behaviour. A quantitative approach and a crosssectional research design were employed in this study. A probability random sample was selected from two low socio-economic communities in Hout Bay, Cape Town. The sample consisted of N =128 preadolescents in grades 4, 5 and 6. The data for the study was obtained using self-report questionnaires that included - demographics, Family Environment Scale (FES), Basic Psychological Needs Scale (BPNS), Youth Self Report (YSR) and Buss Perry Aggression Questionnaire (BPAQ). Participants could choose whether they preferred responding in English or Afrikaans. The data was analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) V23. The results were provided using descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings of the study indicated that there is a significant positive relationship between family conflict and preadolescents psychological needs, antisocial behaviour and aggression (with the exception of verbal aggression). The results, yielded by regression analysis, indicated that physical aggression (β = 0.31, p = 0.01) and need frustration, significantly predicted antisocial behaviour (β = 0.28, p = 0.00); need frustration (β = 0.28, p = 0.00) and antisocial behaviour significantly predicted physical aggression (β = 0.30, p = 0.00); antisocial behaviour (β = 0.24, p = 0.01) significantly predicted verbal aggression; need frustration (β = 0.35, p = 0.00) significantly predicted anger and need frustration (β = 0.26, p = 0.01) significantly predicting hostility. The assumptions of this study were confirmed - family conflict frustrates the basic psychological needs of preadolescents, and family conflict is related to the externalizing behaviour of preadolescents. The researcher ensured that confidentiality, anonymity and respect were adhered to throughout the study.