Publications by Year: 2012


This study examined the associations between reasoning during interparental conflict and autonomous adolescent conflict negotiation with peers over time. Participants included 133 adolescents and their parents, peers, and romantic partners in a multi-method, multiple reporter, longitudinal study. Interparental reasoning at adolescent age 13 predicted greater autonomy and relatedness in observed adolescent-peer conflict one year later and lower levels of autonomy undermining during observed romantic partner conflict five years later. Interparental reasoning also predicted greater satisfaction and affection in adolescent romantic relationships seven years later. Findings suggest that autonomy promoting behaviors exhibited in the interparental context may influence adolescents’ own more autonomous approaches to subsequent peer and romantic conflict. Possible explanatory models are discussed, including social learning theory and attachment theory.
Allen, J., Chango, J., Szwedo, D., Schad, M., & Marston, E. (2012). Predictors of Susceptibility to Peer Influence Regarding Substance Use in Adolescence. Child Development, 83(1), 337-350.
The extent to which peer influences on substance use in adolescence systematically vary in strength based on qualities of the adolescent and his or her close friend was assessed in a study of 157 adolescents (Age: M = 13.35, SD = 0.64), their close friends and their parents assessed longitudinally with a combination of observational, analogue, sociometric, and self-report measures from early to mid-adolescence. The degree to which adolescents changed their levels of substance use in accord with their peers' baseline levels of use was predicted by a range of theoretically-salient factors including: observed teen lack of autonomy and social support in prior interactions with mothers, low teen refusal skills, and the level of social acceptance of their close friend. Findings suggest the importance of both internal factors (e.g., autonomy and relatedness struggles) and external factors (e.g., social status of friends) in explaining why vulnerability to peer influence processes may be much greater for some adolescents than others.
Chango, J., McElhaney, K. B., Allen, J., Schad, M., & Marston, E. (2012). Relational Stressors and Depressive Symptoms in Late Adolescence: Rejection Sensitivity as a Vulnerability. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40(3), 369-379.
The role of rejection sensitivity as a critical diathesis moderating the link between adolescent relational stressors and depressive symptoms was examined using multi-method, multi-reporter data from a diverse community sample of 173 adolescents, followed from age 16 to 18. Relational stressors examined included emotional abuse, maternal behavior undermining adolescents’ autonomy and relatedness, and lack of support from close peers. As hypothesized, multiple relational stressors were found to predict the future development of depressive symptoms, but as hypothesized predictions existed primarily for adolescents who were highly rejection sensitive. Results are discussed in terms of a diathesis-stress model of depression and suggest that though relational stressors have previously shown consistent modest links to depressive symptoms, understanding pre-existing intrapsychic vulnerabilities of the adolescent may be critical to identifying the processes by which such stressors lead to depressive symptoms.
Hafen, C., Allen, J., Mikami, A., Gregory, A., Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. (2012). The Pivotal Role of Adolescent Autonomy in Secondary School Classrooms. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(3), 245-255.
Student engagement is an important contributor to school success, yet high school students routinely describe themselves as disengaged. Identifying factors that alter (increase) engagement is a key aspect of improving support for student achievement. This study investigated students’ perceptions of autonomy, teacher connection, and academic competence as predictors of changes in student engagement within the classroom from the start to the end of a course. Participants were 578 (58% female) diverse (67.8% White, 25.2% African American, 5.1% Hispanic, 1.2% Asian American) high school students from 34 classrooms who provided questionnaire data both at the start and the end of a single course. Novel results from a cross-lagged model demonstrated that students who perceived their classrooms as allowing and encouraging their own autonomy in the first few weeks increased their engagement throughout the course, rather than the typical decline in engagement that was demonstrated by students in other classrooms. This finding is unique in that it extended to both students’ perceptions of engagement and observations of student engagement, suggesting a fairly robust pattern. The pertinence of this finding to adolescent developmental needs and its relationship to educational practice is discussed.
Pianta, R., Hamre, B., & Allen, J. (2012). Teacher-Student Relationships and Engagement: Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Improving the Capacity of Classroom Interactions. Handbook of Research on Student Engagement.
Classrooms are complex social systems, and student-teacher relationships and interactions are also complex, multicomponent systems. We posit that the nature and quality of relationship interactions between teachers and students are fundamental to understanding student engagement, can be assessed through standardized observation methods, and can be changed by providing teachers knowledge about developmental processes relevant for classroom interactions and personalized feedback/support about their interactive behaviors and cues. When these supports are provided to teachers’ interactions, student engagement increases. In this chapter, we focus on the theoretical and empirical links between interactions and engagement and present an approach to intervention designed to increase the quality of such interactions and, in turn, increase student engagement and, ultimately, learning and development. Recognizing general principles of development in complex systems, a theory of the classroom as a setting for development, and a theory of change specific to this social setting are the ultimate goals of this work. Engagement, in this context, is both an outcome in its own right and a mediator of impacts that teachers have on student outcomes through their interactions with children and youth. In light of this discussion, we offer suggestions or directions for further research in this area.
Szwedo, D., Mikami, A. Y., & Allen, J. (2012). Social Networking Site Use Predicts Changes in Young Adults’ Psychological Adjustment. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 22(3), 453-466.
This study examined youths’ friendships and posted pictures on social networking sites as predictors of changes in their adjustment over time. Observational, self-report, and peer report data were obtained from a community sample of 89 young adults interviewed at age 21 and again at age 22. Findings were consistent with a leveling effect for online friendships, predicting decreases in internalizing symptoms for youth with lower initial levels of social acceptance, but increases in symptoms for youth with higher initial levels over the following year. Across the entire sample, deviant behavior in posted photos predicted increases in young adults’ problematic alcohol use over time. The importance of considering the interplay between online and offline social factors for predicting adjustment is discussed.