This study examined parent-adolescent autonomous-relatedness functioning in inner-city, ethnic minority families of adolescents exhibiting drug abuse and related problem behaviors. Seventyfour parent-adolescent dyads completed a structured interaction task prior to the start of treatment that was coded using an established autonomous-relatedness measure. Adolescent drug use, externalizing, and internalizing behaviors were assessed. Parents and adolescents completed assessment instruments measuring parenting style and family conflict. Confirmatory factor analysis found significant differences in the underlying dimensions of parent and adolescent autonomous-relatedness in this sample versus previous samples. It was also found that autonomous-relatedness was associated with worse adolescent symptomatology and family impairment. Results based on both self-report and observational measures contribute to the understanding of key family constructs in this population and provide insight for both researchers and the treatment community.
This study used longitudinal, multimethod data to examine specific patterns of behavioral interaction with parents and peers that were hypothesized to predict increasing levels of depressive symptoms in early adolescence. Adolescents' struggles in establishing autonomy and relatedness in interactions with mothers, and a withdrawn, angry, or dependent pattern of behavior with a best friend, were assessed with observational and peer-report methods in a community sample of 143 adolescents, who were also assessed for levels of depressive symptoms at age 13 and with whom the authors followed up 1 year later. Study hypotheses were confirmed, with dysfunctional interaction patterns with parents and peers combining additively to account for substantial change variance in depressive symptoms over time. Results are interpreted as highlighting specific behavioral patterns that may be promising to address via psychosocial interventions targeting adolescent depression.
Adolescents’ susceptibility to peer influence was examined as a marker of difficulties in the general process of autonomy development that was likely to be related to deficits across multiple domains of psychosocial functioning. A laboratory-based assessment of susceptibility to peer influence in interactions with a close friend was developed and examined in relation to corollary reports obtained from adolescents, their mothers, and close peers at ages 13 and 14. As hypothesized, observed susceptibility to peer influence with a close friend predicted future responses to negative peer pressure, but it was also related to broader markers of problems in functioning, including decreases in popularity, and increasing levels of depressive symptoms, over time. Susceptibility to peer influence was also linked to higher concurrent levels of substance use, externalizing behavior, and sexual activity. Results are interpreted as reflecting the central role of establishing autonomy with peers in psychosocial development.
Although success in managing evolving peer relationships is linked to critical adolescent outcomes, little is known about the specific factors that lead to success or failure in peer relationship development across adolescence. This longitudinal study examines the role of adolescents’ level of ego development as a predictor of the future course of several facets of friendship development in early adolescence. Ego development was assessed in a community sample of adolescents at age 13. Several facets of adolescent friendship were also assessed at 13 and then reassessed 1 year later, including adolescent intimate behavior during a supportive interaction with their best friends, adolescent reports of psychological security in their friendships, and peer-rated popularity. As predicted, ego development not only explained concurrent levels of peer functioning but also predicted markers of change over time in each of the assessed domains of peer functioning. Implications for ego development in increasing our understanding of individual differences in adolescent friendship development are discussed.
This study examined attachment organization as a moderator of the link between the quality of the adolescents’ current friendships and delinquent behavior. Data were gathered from a moderately atrisk sample of 71 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse adolescents. Results revealed a moderating effect of attachment organization (as assessed by the AAI) such that strong and supportive friendships were linked to lower levels of delinquency, but only when adolescents’ attachment organization reflected an orientation toward heightened attention to attachment relationships (via preoccupation or via clear lack of dismissal of attachment). These results suggest that attachment organization plays an important role in delineating the conditions under which the qualities of social relationships are likely to be linked to important psychosocial outcomes.