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Desire for Increased Autonomy and Adolescents’ Perceptions of Peer Autonomy: “Everyone Else Can; Why Can’t I?”


  • This research was presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, March 2008. I would like to thank the students of Marion City Schools for their participation in the project and Judith Smetana for her helpful comments during the writing of this manuscript.

concerning this article should be addressed to Christopher Daddis, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, 1465 Mt. Vernon Avenue, Marion, OH 43302. Electronic mail may be sent to


Two studies examined adolescents’ personal autonomy beliefs and their perceptions of peer autonomy. Study 1 sampled 527 adolescents (= 15.40 years) and found that adolescents desired increased autonomy most over personal and multifaceted issues and least over moral and conventional issues. Younger adolescents and girls desired increased autonomy more than did older adolescents and boys, respectively. Overestimation of peer autonomy was moderate but stable. Finally, results indicated that adolescents who perceived their friends as having more autonomy than they did were more likely to desire increased autonomy over multifaceted and prudential issues. Study 2 sampled 170 early adolescents (= 13.39 years) and used a longitudinal design to further support the conclusion that adolescents utilize peers as metrics to gauge the appropriate pacing of behavioral autonomy development.