Interview, self-report, peer-report, and observational data were used to examine parent and peer relationship qualities as predictors of relative changes in attachment security in a community sample of adolescents followed from age 14 to 24. Early maternal supportive behavior predicted relative increases in attachment security from adolescence to adulthood, whereas psychological control and interparental hostile conflict predicted relative decreases. Peer predictors of relative increases in security included collaborative and autonomous behaviors and lack of hostile interactions, with peer predictions growing stronger for relationships assessed at later ages. Overall, models accounted for sufficient variance as to suggest that attachment security across this period is well explained by a combination of stability plus theoretically predicted change linked to social relationship qualities.
Struggles managing conflict and hostility in adolescent social relationships were examined as long-term predictors of immune-mediated inflammation in adulthood that has been linked to long-term health outcomes. Circulating levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a marker of immune system dysfunction when chronically elevated, were assessed at age 28 in a community sample of 127 individuals followed via multiple methods and reporters from ages 13 to 28. Adult serum IL-6 levels were predicted across periods as long as 15 years by adolescents’ inability to defuse peer aggression and poor peer-rated conflict resolution skills, and by independently observed romantic partner hostility in late adolescence. Adult relationship difficulties also predicted higher IL-6 levels but did not mediate predictions from adolescent-era conflict struggles. Predictions were also not mediated by adult trait hostility or aggressive behavior, suggesting the unique role of struggles with conflict and hostility from others during adolescence. The implications for understanding the import of adolescent peer relationships for life span physical health outcomes are considered.
Adolescent romantic relationships have the potential to affect psychological functioning well into adulthood. This study assessed adolescent romantic relationship qualities as long-term predictors of psychological functioning utilizing a longitudinal multi-method, multi-informant study of 80 participants (59% female; 54% Caucasian, 35% African American, 11% mixed or other race) assessed at age 17 along with their romantic partners and at ages 25–27. Controlling for gender, family income, and baseline mental health, partner-reported hostile conflict at age 17 predicted relative increases in internalizing behaviors from age 17 to 27. In contrast, observed teen support with their partner during a help-seeking task at age 17 predicted relative decreases in externalizing behaviors over time. The results are interpreted as suggesting qualities that may help determine whether adolescent romances have positive vs. negative long-term psychological health implications.
This study assessed the key aspects of romantic relationship dissolution in emerging adulthood as predictors of future mental health and romantic qualities. It utilized a longitudinal, multiinformant, multimethod study of 160 participants with their romantic partners and close friends followed from ages 20–25, with a breakup assessed at age 22. Having control over initiating a breakup at age 22 predicted relative increases in peer-rated internalizing symptoms and autonomy-undermining interactions with a new partner at ages 23–25. Having a greater understanding of the reasons for a breakup predicted lower self-reported internalizing symptoms and relative decreases in partner-reported romantic conflict as well as relative increases in selfreported relationship satisfaction and peer-rated intimate relationship competence at ages 23–25. Predictions remained after accounting for numerous potential confounds including age 20–22 baseline relationship quality, social competence, internalizing symptoms, and gender. Implications for understanding links between breakup characteristics on emerging adult psychological and relationship functioning are discussed.
Adolescents’ negative expectations of their peers were examined as predictors of their future selection of hostile partners, in a community sample of 184 adolescents followed from ages 13 to 24. Utilizing observational data, close friend- and self-reports, adolescents with more negative expectations at age 13 were found to be more likely to form relationships with observably hostile romantic partners and friends with hostile attitudes by age 18 even after accounting for baseline levels of friend hostile attitudes at age 13 and adolescents’ own hostile behavior and attitudes. Furthermore, the presence of friends with hostile attitudes at age 18 in turn predicted higher levels of adult friend hostile attitudes at age 24. Results suggest the presence of a considerable degree of continuity from negative expectations to hostile partnerships from adolescence well into adulthood.