This study assessed the hypothesis that popularity in adolescence takes on a twofold role, both marking high levels of concurrent psychosocial adaptation, but also predicting increases over time in both positive and negative behaviors sanctioned by peer norms. This hypothesis was tested with multi-method, longitudinal data obtained on a diverse community sample of 185 adolescents. Sociometric popularity data were examined in relation to data from interview-based assessments of attachment security and ego development, observations of mother-adolescent interactions, and repeated self- and peer-report assessments of delinquency and alcohol use. Results indicated that popular adolescents displayed higher concurrent levels of ego development, secure attachment and more adaptive interactions with mothers and best friends. Longitudinal analyses supported a “popularity-socialization” hypothesis, however, in which popular adolescents were more likely to increase in behaviors that receive approval in the peer group (e.g., minor levels of drug use and delinquency) and decrease in behaviors unlikely to be well-received by peers (e.g., hostile behavior with peers).
This study examined whether attachment theory could be used to shed light on the often high degree of discordance between self- and observer-ratings of behavioral functioning and symptomatology. Interview-based assessments of attachment organization, using the Adult Attachment Interview, were examined as predictors of the lack of agreement between self- and other-reports of behavioral and emotional problems among 176 moderately at-risk adolescents. Lack of agreement was measured in terms of concordance of adolescent- and parent- or close friend-report on equivalent measures of behavioral and emotional adjustment. Insecure-dismissing attachment was linked to less agreement in absolute terms between self- and mother-reports of externalizing symptoms, and between adolescent- and close friend-reports of behavioral conduct. Insecure-preoccupied attachment was associated with higher levels of adolescent reporting of internalizing and externalizing symptoms relative to parent-reports of adolescent symptomatology. The findings suggest that attachment organization may be one factor that accounts for individual differences in the degree of discordance between self- and other-reports of symptoms in adolescence.
Within-family covariation between interparental hostility and adolescent behavior across three interactions over a 2-year period was explored in a sample that included 37 typical adolescents and 35 adolescents recently hospitalized for psychiatric difficulties. More interparental hostility across the three interactions was associated with more adolescent hostility and more positive engagement (at a trend level) regardless of psychiatric background. Parent-to-child hostility in each interaction mediated the link for adolescent hostility but not for positive adolescent engagement. Emotion regulation capacities and age were linked to variability in adolescents’ behavior in the presence of interparental conflict. In interactions with more interparental hostility, adolescents with greater capacity to tolerate negative affect were more likely to show increased positive engagement, and adolescents who were better able to modulate their emotional expression were less likely to show increased hostility. Covariation between interparental and adolescent hostility across the three family interactions decreased as the adolescent aged. These findings are consistent with the theory that exposure to interparental hostility is emotionally disequilibrating, and that adolescent responses may reflect differences in emotion regulation and other developmentally based capacities. Gender and variations across families in overall levels of hostile parenting were also linked with adolescent behavior in the presence of interparental hostility.