Adolescent success providing satisfying support in response to a close friend's call in a caregiving task was examined as a potentially fundamental developmental competence likely to predict future social functioning, adult caregiving security, and physical health. Adolescents (86 males, 98 females; 58% White, 29% African American, 8% mixed race/ethnicity, 5% other) were followed from ages 13 to 33 (1998–2021) using multiple methods and reporters. Early caregiving success was found to predict greater self- and partner-reported caregiving security, lower negativity in adult relationships, and higher adult vagal tone. Results are interpreted as advancing our understanding beyond simply recognizing that adolescent friendships have long-term import, to now identifying specific capacities within friendships that are linked to longer-term outcomes.
Publications by Year: 2023
This study examined development of emotional support competence within close friendships across adolescence. A sample of 184 adolescents (53% girls, 47% boys; 58% White, 29% Black, 14% other identity groups) participated in seven waves of multimethod assessments with their best friends and romantic partners from age 13 to 24. Latent change score models identified coupled predictions over time from emotional support competence to increasing friendship quality and decreasing support received from friends. Friend-rated emotional support competence in adolescence predicted supportiveness in adult romantic relationships, over and above supportiveness in adolescent romantic relationships. Teen friendships may set the stage for developing emotional support capacities that progress across time and relationships into adulthood.
This study examined struggles to establish autonomy and relatedness with peers in adolescence and early adulthood as predictors of advanced epigenetic aging assessed at age 30. Participants (N = 154; 67 male and 87 female) were observed repeatedly, along with close friends and romantic partners, from ages 13 through 29. Observed difficulty establishing close friendships characterized by mutual autonomy and relatedness from ages 13 to 18, an interview-assessed attachment state of mind lacking autonomy and valuing of attachment at 24, and self-reported difficulties in social integration across adolescence and adulthood were all linked to greater epigenetic age at 30, after accounting for chronological age, gender, race, and income. Analyses assessing the unique and combined effects of these factors, along with lifetime history of cigarette smoking, indicated that each of these factors, except for adult social integration, contributed uniquely to explaining epigenetic age acceleration. Results are interpreted as evidence that the adolescent preoccupation with peer relationships may be highly functional given the relevance of such relationships to long-term physical outcomes.