Publications by Year: 1994

1994

Allen, J. P., Leadbeater, B. J., & Aber, L. (1994).

The Development of Problem Behavior Syndromes in At-Risk Adolescents

. Development and Psychopathology.

This study examined multiple paths that can explain the co-occurrence of behaviors comprising a problem behavior syndrome in adolescence. Two hundred sixteen 15–18-year-olds in service programs for at-risk adolescents were assessed twice over a 6–12-month period to examine predictors of changes in levels of their delinquency, unprotected sexual intercourse, and use of soft and of hard drugs. This study considered (a) potential common predictors of multiple behaviors, (b) predictive links among behaviors over time, and (c) whether or not important unique aspects of individual behaviors remain in spite of their co-occurrence. Results were consistent with the hypothesis that the co-occurrence of problem behaviors results from multiple pathways of influence. The future occurrence of several problem behaviors was predicted by adolescents' initial negative expectations in social interactions. In addition, alcohol and marijuana use predicted increases in several other problem behaviors over time. Finally, individual problem behaviors retained important unique characteristics, suggesting the need for further research examining both their syndromal and unique aspects.

This study examined links between processes of establishing autonomy and relatedness in adolescent-family interactions and adolescents' psychosocial development. Adolescents in 2-parent families and their parents were observed in a revealed-differences interaction task when adolescents were 14, and adolescents' ego development and self-esteem were assessed at both 14 and 16. Developmental indices were strongly related to autonomy and relatedness displayed by both parents and adolescents. Significant variance was explained even after accounting for the number and quality of speeches of each family member as rated by a different, well-validated family coding system. Increases in adolescents' ego development and self-esteem over time were predicted by fathers' behaviors challenging adolescents' autonomy and relatedness, but only when these occurred in the context of fathers' overall display of autonomous-relatedness with the adolescent. The importance of the mutually negotiated process of adolescents' exploration from the secure base of parental relationships is discussed.