Publications by Year: 2021
Intensity in adolescent romantic relationships was examined as a long-term predictor of higher adult blood pressure in a community sample followed from age 17 to 31. Romantic intensity in adolescence--measured via quantity of time spent alone with a partner and duration of the relationship--was predicted by parents’ psychologically controlling behavior, and was in turn found to predict higher resting adult systolic and diastolic blood pressure even after accounting for relevant covariates. The prediction to adult blood pressure was partially mediated via conflict in non-romantic adult friendships and intensity in adult romantic relationships. Even after accounting for these mediators, however, a direct path from adolescent romantic intensity to higher adult blood pressure remained. Neither family income in adolescence nor trait measures of personality assessed in adulthood accounted for these findings. Results are interpreted both as providing further support for the view that adolescent social relationship qualities have substantial long-term implications for adult health, as well as suggesting a potential physiological mechanism by which adolescent relationships may be linked to adult health outcomes.
All life must strategically conserve and allocate resources in order to meet the challenges of living. Social Baseline Theory suggests that, for humans, social context and the social resources therein are a central ecology in human phylogeny. In ontogeny, this manifests in flexible bioenergetic strategies that vary in the population based on social history. We introduce yielding, a conservation process wherein we relax physiological investment in response to a challenge when in the presence of a relational partner. The availability of these conserved resources then impact response to subsequent challenges while alone and if this pattern is habitual, it can reciprocally influence strategies used to solve or cope with typical stress. We discuss neural targets of this resource conservation and reframe our lab's previous studies on the social regulation of neural threat responding within this framework. We then show functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data indicating the presence of relational partners decreases blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) response to threat in key targets of resource conservation (e.g., dlPFC, dACC, and insula) and that stronger signal reduction in these areas coincide with less BOLD in pre-frontal (dlPFC. vmPFC) and visuo-sensory integration (occipital cortex, precuneus, superior parietal lobule) regions during ostracism. Finally, we show that these neural relationships are associated with less use of self-regulation-based coping strategies two years post scanning. Taken together, we show the utility of yielding both as a concept and as a bioenergetic process which helps to conserve energy in this social primate.
Perceptions of adolescent–parent and adolescent–peer relationship qualities, and adolescents’ attachment states of mind were examined as predictors of adult social and romantic relationship quality, depressive symptoms, and work performance. Adolescents (86 male, 98 female; 58% White, 29% African American, 8% mixed race/ethnicity, 5% other groups) were followed from age 13 to 24 via observational, self-, parent-, and close friend-reports. Adolescent close friendship quality was a significantly better predictor of adult peer and romantic outcomes, work performance, and depressive symptoms than parental reports of the parent–teen relationship; attachment security was also a strong predictor of numerous outcomes. Results are interpreted as reflecting the difficulty for parents judging parent–teen relationship quality and as reflecting the growing importance of close friendships during this period.
Attachment was examined as a predictor of teens’ empathic support for friends in a multimethod longitudinal study of 184 U.S. adolescents (58% Caucasian, 29% African American, 13% other) followed from ages 14 to 18. Adolescents’ secure state of mind regarding attachment at 14 predicted teens’ greater capacity to provide empathic support during observed interactions with friends across ages 16–18 (Baverage = .39). Teens’ empathic support was generally stable during this period, and less secure teens were slower to develop these skills. Further, teens’ attachment security predicted the degree to which friends called for their support (Baverage = .29), which was associated with teens’ responsiveness to such calls. The findings suggest that secure attachment predicts teens’ ability to provide empathic support in close friendships.