Attachment state of mind was investigated as a long-term predictor of romantic relationship competence. A secure early adolescent attachment state of mind was hypothesized to predict more constructive dyadic behaviors during conflict discussions and support seeking interactions in late adolescence and early adulthood. Utilizing multi-method data from a community sample of 184 individuals, followed from ages 14 to 21, adolescents with a secure attachment state of mind at age 14 were found to be in relationships that displayed more constructive dyadic conflict discussion behaviors and dyadic supportive behaviors at both ages 18 and 21. Results suggest substantial links between early adolescent attachment state of mind and the adult romantic relationship atmosphere an individual creates and experiences.
Publications by Year: 2016
Background—Subjective well-being as a predictor for later behavior and health has highlighted its relationship to health, work performance, and social relationships. However, the majority of such studies neglect the developmental nature of well-being in contributing to important changes across the transition to adulthood.
Methods—To examine the potential role of subjective well-being as a long-term predictor of critical life outcomes, we examined indicators of positive and negative affect at age 14 as a predictor of relationship, adjustment, self worth, and career outcomes a decade later at ages 23 to 25, controlling for family income and gender. We utilized multi-informant methods including reports from the target participant, close friends, and romantic partners in a demographically diverse community sample of 184 participants.
Results—Early adolescent positive affect predicted less relationship problems (less selfreported and partner-reported conflict, greater friendship attachment as rated by close peers), healthy adjustment to adulthood (lower levels of depression, anxiety, and loneliness). It also predicted positive work functioning (higher levels of career satisfaction and job competence) and increased self-worth. Negative affect did not significantly predict any of these important life outcomes. In addition to predicting desirable mean levels of later outcomes, early positive affect predicted beneficial changes across time in many outcomes.
Conclusions—The findings extend early research on the beneficial outcomes of subjective well-being by having an earlier assessment of well-being, including informant reports in measuring a large variety of outcome variables, and by extending the findings to a lower socioeconomic group of a diverse and younger sample. The results highlight the importance of considering positive affect as an important component of subjective well-being distinct from negative affect.
This study examined adolescents’ ability to utilize emotional repair—to actively change negative moods to more positive moods—as a predictor of the quality of their developing peer and romantic relationships over time. Utilizing observational data and partners’ reports, adolescents (N = 184), their close peers, and their romantic partners were followed from ages 15–19. Adolescents with initially stronger emotional repair abilities were rated as increasingly socially competent over time, and both displayed and experienced increasingly positive interactive behaviors with close peers over time. These adolescents’ romantic partners also reported more positive relationships, with enhanced communication, and fewer critical, blaming, or hostile interactions. Implications for the role of emotional repair abilities in the development of successful relationships during adolescence are discussed.
Life history theory suggests that adult reward sensitivity should be best explained by childhood, but not current, socioeconomic conditions. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, 83 participants from a larger longitudinal sample completed the monetary incentive delay (MID) task in adulthood (∼25 years old). Parent-reports of neighborhood quality and parental SES were collected when participants were 13 years of age. Current income level was collected concurrently with scanning. Lower adolescent neighborhood quality, but neither lower currentincome nor parental SES, was associated with heightened sensitivity to the anticipation of monetary gain in putative mesolimbic reward areas. Lower adolescent neighborhood quality was also associated with heightened sensitivity to the anticipation of monetary loss activation in visuo-motor areas. Lower current income was associated with heightened sensitivity to anticipated loss in occipital areas and the operculum. We tested whether externalizing behaviors in childhood or adulthood could better account for neighborhood quality findings, but they did not. Findings suggest that neighborhood ecology in adolescence is associated with greater neural reward sensitivity in adulthood above the influence of parental SES or current income and not mediated through impulsivity and externalizing behaviors.
Adolescents’ negative social expectations of their peers were examined as long-term predictors of problematic self-reported social functioning. Early adolescent negative expectations were hypothesized to predict risk-averse functioning in late adolescence that would ultimately contribute to confirmation of those expectations. Utilizing observational data and friend- and selfreports from a community sample of 184 adolescents followed from ages 13 to 25, adolescents with more negative expectations were found to have become increasingly submissive with friends over time and were rated as less romantically appealing by late adolescence (after controlling for baseline levels of these variables, baseline friend-rated social competence and self-reported depressive symptoms). In turn, submissiveness and romantic appeal predicted problematic selfreported social functioning well into adulthood and mediated the relationship between adolescent negative expectations and problematic self-reported adult social functioning. These findings support the possibility of a self-fulfilling social process unfolding from early adolescence to adulthood.