Although one goal of the use of autonomy restricting parenting behavior is to keep teens psychologically dependent on the parent, research has yet to examine whether such behavior actually predicts later parental dependency. Thus, the present longitudinal, multi-method study investigates at which points across adolescence this behavior predicts parental dependency in emerging adulthood, and whether this association differs based on which parent uses psychological control within a non-clinical and racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse sample. Teens’ (N = 184) parents completed measures of perceived parental psychological control exhibited toward their teens during early (age 13) and late adolescence (age 18), as well as their teens’ parental dependency and functional independence during emerging adulthood (age 22). Additionally, interactions between teens and their parents during early and late adolescence were observed and coded to measure autonomy and relatedness restriction. Results indicated that autonomy restricting parenting behaviors were more predictive of parental dependence when used in early adolescence as compared to late adolescence, and revealed several cross-parent effects. Developmental implications for understanding parent-child relationships are discussed.
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 17-year prospective study applied a social-development lens to the challenge of identifying long-term predictors of adult depressive symptoms. A diverse community sample of 171 individuals was repeatedly assessed from age 13 to age 30 using self-, parent-, and peer-report methods. As hypothesized, competence in establishing close friendships beginning in adolescence had a substantial long-term predictive relation to adult depressive symptoms at ages 27–30, even after accounting for prior depressive, anxiety, and externalizing symptoms. Intervening relationship difficulties at ages 23–26 were identified as part of pathways to depressive symptoms in the late twenties. Somewhat distinct paths by gender were also identified, but in all cases were consistent with an overall role of relationship difficulties in predicting long-term depressive symptoms. Implications both for early identification of risk as well as for potential preventive interventions are discussed.
Understanding whether and how the absence of positive relationships may predict longer-term physical health outcomes is central to building a working conceptual model of the interplay of social and physical development across the lifespan. This study sought to examine the extent to which difficulties establishing positive social relationships from adolescence onward serve as long-term predictors of low adult vagal tone, which in turn has been linked to numerous long-term health problems. A diverse community sample of 141 individuals was followed via multiple methods and reporters from age 13 to 29. Across this span, social relationship quality was assessed via close friend and peer reports, observations of romantic interactions, and self-reported romantic relationship satisfaction. A range of potential personality and functional covariates was also considered. Vagal tone while at rest was assessed at age 29. Adult vagal tone was predicted across periods as long as 16 years by: adolescents' difficulty establishing themselves as desirable companions among peers; early adults' inability to establish strong close friendships; and lack of warmth in romantic relationships as an adult. Poor early adult friendship quality statistically mediated the link from adolescent peer difficulties to adult vagal tone. A range of potential confounding factors was examined but was not linked to vagal tone. Within the limits of the correlational design of the study, robust connections between adult vagal tone and social relationship quality from adolescence onward suggest at least a possible mechanism by which relationship difficulties may get 'under the skin' to influence future physiological functioning.
Facilitating connection to enhance college student well-being: Evaluation of an experiential group program. American Journal of Community Psychology, 70(3-4), 314-326.
This randomized controlled trial examined the impact of The Connection Project, an experiential, relationship-focused intervention designed to improve school belongingness and decrease symptoms of depression and loneliness among new college students. Participants were 438 first-year and transfer students (232 treatment, 206 waitlist-control) at a medium-sized, 4years, predominantly White public university in the Southeastern United States. At postintervention, the treatment group reported significant relative increases in school belonging and significant relative reductions in levels of loneliness and depressive symptoms in comparison to waitlist-controls. Program effects were stronger for students from marginalized racial or ethnic backgrounds, students from lower socioeconomic status households, and transfer students. Results are interpreted as suggesting the utility of experiential, peer-support prevention programming to promote college students' well-being, particularly college students who hold identities that are traditionally disadvantaged in this context.
The My Teaching Partner-Secondary (MTPS) program demonstrated improvements in classroom interactions and student outcomes in secondary schools using one-on-one coaching between study staff and teachers. Despite promising results, the time, cost, and oversight from a university research team may pose barriers to adoption of coaching programs like MTPS at scale. The My Teaching Team (MTT) project sought to translate key ingredients from MTPS into existing professional development contexts that are already built into many middle and high school educators’ weekly schedules: co-planning or professional learning community meetings. Six teams of secondary teachers (N = 30 teachers) participated in a pilot test of the usability of MTT materials across 5 months in one school year. Three teams elected to use MTT materials, and three elected to be a comparison group who continued their typical practices. Teams adopting MTT materials were observed to do so with good implementation integrity, and reported satisfaction with the intervention. Compared to typical practice teams, those using MTT were observed to spend more meeting time discussing teaching practice and less time discussing logistics/mechanics, and engaged in more video sharing and feedback to team members in the MTT sessions that explicitly encouraged this. The number of MTT meetings completed by a team, as well as spending more time discussing teaching practices and video sharing (but not feedback provided) during team meetings, predicted students’ self-reports of greater engagement and observations of higher levels of emotional support provided in the classroom. Implications for translating empirically supported interventions from the lab to real-world school settings are discussed.
Beyond susceptibility: Openness to peer influence is predicted by adaptive social relationships. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 46(3), 180–189.
This study examined the hypothesis, derived from theories highlighting the importance of group harmony and sense of belonging in human relationships, that the adolescents who are most likely to be influenced by their close friends are those who have the highest quality social relationships. Potential moderators of close friend influence on adolescent substance use were examined in a sample of 157 adolescents followed across a 1-year period in mid-adolescence using a combination of observational, sociometric, and self- and peer-report measures. As hypothesized, the degree to which adolescents changed their levels of substance use in accord with a close friend’s levels of use at baseline was predicted by multiple, independent markers of higher quality social relationships including having a higher quality maternal relationship, being identified as a socially desirable companion within the broader peer group, and having a close friend who handled disagreements with warmth and autonomy. Notably, influence processes were neutral in valence: Teens displayed relative reductions in substance use when their close friends had low levels of use and the opposite when their friends had high levels of use. Results are discussed as suggesting the need to distinguish overall normative and adaptive peer influence processes from the sometimes maladaptive effects that can occur when teens associate with specific deviant peers or with a problematic adolescent subculture.
Adolescent peer struggles predict accelerated epigenetic aging in midlife. Development and Psychopathology, 1-14.
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.
Socioeconomic status in early adolescence predicts blunted stress responses in adulthood. Developmental Psychobiology, 64(6).
Individuals who grow up in families with lower socioeconomic status (SES) tend to experience disproportionate rates of chronic stress. The “freeze” response, characterized by blunted cardiovascular reactivity and reduced engagement with the environment, is associated with chronic stress and may be utilized when an individual is unable to escape or overcome environmental stressors. Using a diverse community sample of 184 adolescents followed from the age of 13 to 29 years, along with their friends and romantic partners, this study examined links between family SES and stress responses in adulthood. Low family SES at the age of 13 years directly predicted blunted heart rate responding and fewer attempts to answer math problems during a modified version of the Trier Social Stress Task at the age of 29 years. Indirect effects were found from low family SES to blunted respiratory sinus arrhythmia responding and the number of words spoken during a speech task. SES at the age of 29 years mediated many of these relations. Findings held after accounting for a number of potential confounds, including adolescent academic and attachment functioning and body mass index. We interpret these findings as evidence that low familial SES may predict freezing-type responses in adulthood.
Longitudinal Associations between Social Relationships and Alcohol Use from Adolescence into Young Adulthood: The Role of Religiousness. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 51(9), 1798-1814.
As adolescence is a time characterized by rapid changes in social relationships as well as an increase in risk-taking behaviors, this prospective longitudinal study examined whether social involvement and social alienation are associated with changes in alcohol use from adolescence into young adulthood moderated by organizational and personal religiousness. Participants were 167 adolescents (53% male) assessed five times between ages 14 and 18 years old. Latent change score modeling analyses indicated that social alienation was positively associated with greater increases in alcohol use among those with low organizational religiousness and those with low personal religiousness in early adolescence and during the transition into young adulthood. The findings demonstrate the detrimental effects of social relationship risk factors that promote alcohol use during adolescence into young adulthood. The results further highlight the protective roles of organizational and personal religiousness acting as additional sources of social engagement experiences to modulate the effects of social alienation predicting alcohol use progression and provide evidence for the positive impact religiousness has on healthy adolescent development.