Yan, F., Costello, M., & Allen, J. (2020). Self-Perception and Relative Increases in Substance Use Problems in Early Adulthood. Journal of Drug Issues, 1-12.
This study assessed self-perception as a long-term predictor of relative changes in problems related to alcohol and marijuana use in early adulthood. Self-report questionnaires were completed by a community sample of 124 individuals in the Southeastern United States who were followed longitudinally from age 19 to 27. More problems due to substance use at age 27 were predicted by participants’ negative perceptions of their social acceptance, romantic appeal, and self-worth. Predictions remained after accounting for potential confounds including gender, income, and baseline substance use problems at age 19. Social avoidance and distress in new situations at age 19 mediated the relationship between self-perception and relative changes in substance use problems, such that increases in substance use problems from age 19 to 27 were potentially explainable by the linkage of negative self-perceptions to social avoidance and distress in new situations.
Loeb, E. L., Davis, A., Narr, R., Uchino, B., Grey, R. K., & Allen, J. (2020). The developmental precursors of blunted cardiovascular responses to stress. Developmental Psychobiology.
Blunted cardiovascular responses to stress have been associated with both mental and physical health concerns. This multi-method, longitudinal study examined the role of chronic social-developmental stress from adolescence onward as a precursor to these blunted stress responses. Using a diverse community sample of 184 adolescents followed from age 13 to 29 along with friends and romantic partners, this study found that high levels of parental psychological control at age 13 directly predicted a blunted heart rate response and indirectly predicted blunted respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) reactivity under stress. Heart rate effects were mediated via indicators of a developing passive response style, including observational measures of withdrawal during conflict with friends and romantic partners, social disengagement, and coping with stressors by using denial. RSA effects were mediated via withdrawal during conflict with romantic partners and coping by using denial. The current findings are interpreted as suggesting a mechanism by which a key social/developmental stressor in adolescence may alter relational and ultimately physiological patterns of stress responding into adulthood.
Loeb, E., Kansky, J., Tan, J., Costello, M., & Allen, J. (2020). Perceived Psychological Control in Early Adolescence Predicts Lower Levels of Adaptation into Mid-Adulthood. Child Development.
This study examined perceived parental psychological control in early adolescence as a critical stressor likely to be associated with lower levels of adaptation into mid-adulthood. A diverse sample of 184 adolescents was followed from age 13 through 32 to assess predictions to adult adaptation. Perceived parental psychological control at age 13 predicted relative decreases in observed support, lower likelihood of being in a romantic relationship, and lower academic attainment (after accounting for grade point average at baseline) by age 32. Many outcomes were mediated by lower levels of psychosocial maturity and peer acceptance in mid-adolescence. Overall, results suggest that perceived parental psychological control in early adolescence potentially undermines autonomy so as to lead to less favorable outcomes well into adulthood.
Allen, J., Narr, R., Kansky, J., & Szwedo, D. (2020). Adolescent Peer Relationship Qualities as Predictors of Long-Term Romantic Life Satisfaction. Child Development, 91(1), 327-340.
Adolescent-era predictors of adult romantic life satisfaction were examined in a multimethod, prospective, longitudinal study of 165 adolescents followed from ages 13 to 30. Progress in key developmental tasks, including establishing positive expectations and capacity for assertiveness with peers at age 13, social competence at ages 15 and 16, and ability to form and maintain strong close friendships at ages 16–18, predicted romantic life satisfaction at ages 27–30. In contrast, several qualities linked to romantic experience during adolescence (i.e., sexual and dating experience, physical attractiveness) were unrelated to future satisfaction. Results suggest a central role of competence in nonromantic friendships as preparation for successful management of the future demands of adult romantic life.
Allen, J., Loeb, E., Narr, R., & Costello, M. (2020). Different factors predict adolescent substance use versus adult substance abuse: Lessons from a social-developmental approach. Development and Psychopathology.
This 17-year prospective study applied a social-developmental lens to the challenge of distinguishing predictors of adolescent-era substance use from predictors of longer term adult substance use problems. A diverse community sample of 168 individuals was repeatedly assessed from age 13 to age 30 using test, self-, parent-, and peer-report methods. As hypothesized, substance use within adolescence was linked to a range of likely transient social and developmental factors that are particularly salient during the adolescent era, including popularity with peers, peer substance use, parent–adolescent conflict, and broader patterns of deviant behavior. Substance abuse problems at ages 27–30 were best predicted, even after accounting for levels of substance use in adolescence, by adolescent-era markers of underlying deficits, including lack of social skills and poor self-concept. The factors that best predicted levels of adolescent-era substance use were not generally predictive of adult substance abuse problems in multivariate models (either with or without accounting for baseline levels of use). Results are interpreted as suggesting that recognizing the developmental nature of adolescent-era substance use may be crucial to distinguishing factors that predict socially driven and/or relatively transient use during adolescence from factors that predict long-term problems with substance abuse that extend well into adulthood.
Allen, J. P., Narr, R. K., Nagel, A., Costello, M., & Guskin, K. (2020). The Connection Project: Changing the peer environment to improve outcomes for marginalized adolescents. Development and Psychopathology.
This study evaluated a school-based intervention to enhance adolescent peer relationships and improve functional outcomes, building upon Ed Zigler’s seminal contribution in recognizing the potential of academic contexts to enhance social and emotional development. Adolescents (N = 610) primarily from economically or racially/ethnically marginalized groups were assessed preintervention, postintervention, and at 4-month follow-up in a randomized controlled trial. At program completion, intervention participants reported significantly increased quality of peer relationships; by 4-month follow-up, this increased quality was also observable by peers outside of the program, and program participants also displayed higher levels of academic engagement and lower levels of depressive symptoms. These latter effects appear to have potentially been mediated via participants’ increased use of social support. The potential of the Connection Project intervention specifically, and of broader efforts to activate adolescent peer relationships as potent sources of social support and growth more generally within the secondary school context, is discussed.
Loeb, E. L., Kansky, J., Narr, R. K., Fowler, C., & Allen, J. P. (2020). Romantic Relationship Churn in Early Adolescence Predicts Hostility, Abuse, and Avoidance in Relationships Into Early Adulthood. The Journal of Early Adolescence.
This study examined early adolescent romantic “churning,” defined here as having a large number of boyfriends/girlfriends by age 13, as a problematic marker likely to predict hostility, abuse, and avoidance during conflict in later relationships. A sample of 184 adolescents was followed through age 24 to assess predictions of hostility, abuse, and avoidance during conflict from early romantic churning. Controlling for gender and family income, romantic churning at age 13 predicted relative decreases in peer preference and relative increases in conflict and betrayal in close friendships from ages 13 to 16, as well as higher observable hostility and self- and partner-reported abuse in romantic relationships by age 18 and greater avoidance during conflict with romantic partners by age 24. Findings remained after accounting for attachment security, social competence, and friendship quality in early adolescence, suggesting that early romantic churning may uniquely predict a problematic developmental pathway.


Allen, J., Narr, R., Loeb, E., & Davis, A. (2019). Beyond deviancy-training: Deviant adolescent friendships and long-term social development. Development and Psychopathology, 31, 1609-1618.
Adolescent association with deviant and delinquent friends was examined for its roots in coercive parent–teen interactions and its links to functional difficulties extending beyond delinquent behavior and into adulthood. A community sample of 184 adolescents was followed from age 13 to age 27, with collateral data obtained from close friends, classmates, and parents. Even after accounting for adolescent levels of delinquent and deviant behavior, association with deviant friends was predicted by coercive parent–teen interactions and then linked to declining functioning with peers during adolescence and greater internalizing and externalizing symptoms and poorer overall adjustment in adulthood. Results are interpreted as suggesting that association with deviant friends may disrupt a core developmental task—establishing positive relationships with peers—with implications that extend well beyond deviancy-training effects.
Costello, M., Narr, R., Tan, J., & Allen, J. (2019). The Intensity Effect in Adolescent Close Friendships: Implications for Aggressive and Depressive Symptomatology. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 30(1).
This study examined the effect of close friendship intensity as a potential amplifier of an adolescent's preexisting tendencies toward depressive and aggressive symptoms. A diverse community sample of 170 adolescents and their closest friends was assessed via multiple methods, and adolescents were followed from age 16 to 17. Results supported the hypothesized effect, with more intense close friendships interacting with higher baseline levels of behavioral symptoms to predict greater relative increases in symptoms over time. Effects were observed for both depressive and aggressive symptoms, and appeared with respect to multiple observational measures of friendship intensity. Findings are interpreted as suggesting that seemingly disparate phenomena (e.g., co‐rumination for depression and deviancy‐training for aggression) may both be dependent upon the intensity of the adolescent's social connections.
Gregory, A., Ruzek, E., DeCoster, J., Mikami, A. Y., & Allen, J. (2019). Focused Classroom Coaching and Widespread Racial Equity in School Discipline. American Educational Research Association Open, 5(4).
We examined the effects of a teacher coaching program on discipline referrals using records from 7,794 U.S. classrooms in secondary schools. Some classroom teachers took part in a trial: They were randomized to receive intensive coaching in a focal classroom or to form a business-as-usual control group. The remaining teachers taught in the same schools as the teachers in the trial. Previous research suggested that the coaching program was associated with increasing equity in discipline referrals in focal, coached classrooms. The current study addressed whether effects found in the teachers’ focal, coached classrooms generalized to diverse classrooms in their course load. Results suggested that the coaching program had no generalized effects on reducing referrals with African American students or racial referral gaps in classrooms with coached teachers, relative to the control teachers and the other teachers in the schools. We offer implications for coaching programs and directions for equity-oriented efforts to reduce racial discipline gaps.