This study assessed self-perception as a long-term predictor of relative changes in problems related to alcohol and marijuana use in early adulthood. Self-report questionnaires were completed by a community sample of 124 individuals in the Southeastern United States who were followed longitudinally from age 19 to 27. More problems due to substance use at age 27 were predicted by participants’ negative perceptions of their social acceptance, romantic appeal, and self-worth. Predictions remained after accounting for potential confounds including gender, income, and baseline substance use problems at age 19. Social avoidance and distress in new situations at age 19 mediated the relationship between self-perception and relative changes in substance use problems, such that increases in substance use problems from age 19 to 27 were potentially explainable by the linkage of negative self-perceptions to social avoidance and distress in new situations.
Blunted cardiovascular responses to stress have been associated with both mental and physical health concerns. This multi-method, longitudinal study examined the role of chronic social-developmental stress from adolescence onward as a precursor to these blunted stress responses. Using a diverse community sample of 184 adolescents followed from age 13 to 29 along with friends and romantic partners, this study found that high levels of parental psychological control at age 13 directly predicted a blunted heart rate response and indirectly predicted blunted respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) reactivity under stress. Heart rate effects were mediated via indicators of a developing passive response style, including observational measures of withdrawal during conflict with friends and romantic partners, social disengagement, and coping with stressors by using denial. RSA effects were mediated via withdrawal during conflict with romantic partners and coping by using denial. The current findings are interpreted as suggesting a mechanism by which a key social/developmental stressor in adolescence may alter relational and ultimately physiological patterns of stress responding into adulthood.
This study examined perceived parental psychological control in early adolescence as a critical stressor likely to be associated with lower levels of adaptation into mid-adulthood. A diverse sample of 184 adolescents was followed from age 13 through 32 to assess predictions to adult adaptation. Perceived parental psychological control at age 13 predicted relative decreases in observed support, lower likelihood of being in a romantic relationship, and lower academic attainment (after accounting for grade point average at baseline) by age 32. Many outcomes were mediated by lower levels of psychosocial maturity and peer acceptance in mid-adolescence. Overall, results suggest that perceived parental psychological control in early adolescence potentially undermines autonomy so as to lead to less favorable outcomes well into adulthood.
Adolescent-era predictors of adult romantic life satisfaction were examined in a multimethod, prospective, longitudinal study of 165 adolescents followed from ages 13 to 30. Progress in key developmental tasks, including establishing positive expectations and capacity for assertiveness with peers at age 13, social competence at ages 15 and 16, and ability to form and maintain strong close friendships at ages 16–18, predicted romantic life satisfaction at ages 27–30. In contrast, several qualities linked to romantic experience during adolescence (i.e., sexual and dating experience, physical attractiveness) were unrelated to future satisfaction. Results suggest a central role of competence in nonromantic friendships as preparation for successful management of the future demands of adult romantic life.
This 17-year prospective study applied a social-developmental lens to the challenge of distinguishing predictors of adolescent-era substance use from predictors of longer term adult substance use problems. A diverse community sample of 168 individuals was repeatedly assessed from age 13 to age 30 using test, self-, parent-, and peer-report methods. As hypothesized, substance use within adolescence was linked to a range of likely transient social and developmental factors that are particularly salient during the adolescent era, including popularity with peers, peer substance use, parent–adolescent conflict, and broader patterns of deviant behavior. Substance abuse problems at ages 27–30 were best predicted, even after accounting for levels of substance use in adolescence, by adolescent-era markers of underlying deficits, including lack of social skills and poor self-concept. The factors that best predicted levels of adolescent-era substance use were not generally predictive of adult substance abuse problems in multivariate models (either with or without accounting for baseline levels of use). Results are interpreted as suggesting that recognizing the developmental nature of adolescent-era substance use may be crucial to distinguishing factors that predict socially driven and/or relatively transient use during adolescence from factors that predict long-term problems with substance abuse that extend well into adulthood.
This study evaluated a school-based intervention to enhance adolescent peer relationships and improve functional outcomes, building upon Ed Zigler’s seminal contribution in recognizing the potential of academic contexts to enhance social and emotional development. Adolescents (N = 610) primarily from economically or racially/ethnically marginalized groups were assessed preintervention, postintervention, and at 4-month follow-up in a randomized controlled trial. At program completion, intervention participants reported significantly increased quality of peer relationships; by 4-month follow-up, this increased quality was also observable by peers outside of the program, and program participants also displayed higher levels of academic engagement and lower levels of depressive symptoms. These latter effects appear to have potentially been mediated via participants’ increased use of social support. The potential of the Connection Project intervention specifically, and of broader efforts to activate adolescent peer relationships as potent sources of social support and growth more generally within the secondary school context, is discussed.
This study examined early adolescent romantic “churning,” defined here as having a large number of boyfriends/girlfriends by age 13, as a problematic marker likely to predict hostility, abuse, and avoidance during conflict in later relationships. A sample of 184 adolescents was followed through age 24 to assess predictions of hostility, abuse, and avoidance during conflict from early romantic churning. Controlling for gender and family income, romantic churning at age 13 predicted relative decreases in peer preference and relative increases in conflict and betrayal in close friendships from ages 13 to 16, as well as higher observable hostility and self- and partner-reported abuse in romantic relationships by age 18 and greater avoidance during conflict with romantic partners by age 24. Findings remained after accounting for attachment security, social competence, and friendship quality in early adolescence, suggesting that early romantic churning may uniquely predict a problematic developmental pathway.
Adolescent association with deviant and delinquent friends was examined for its roots in coercive parent–teen interactions and its links to functional difficulties extending beyond delinquent behavior and into adulthood. A community sample of 184 adolescents was followed from age 13 to age 27, with collateral data obtained from close friends, classmates, and parents. Even after accounting for adolescent levels of delinquent and deviant behavior, association with deviant friends was predicted by coercive parent–teen interactions and then linked to declining functioning with peers during adolescence and greater internalizing and externalizing symptoms and poorer overall adjustment in adulthood. Results are interpreted as suggesting that association with deviant friends may disrupt a core developmental task—establishing positive relationships with peers—with implications that extend well beyond deviancy-training effects.
This study examined the effect of close friendship intensity as a potential amplifier of an adolescent's preexisting tendencies toward depressive and aggressive symptoms. A diverse community sample of 170 adolescents and their closest friends was assessed via multiple methods, and adolescents were followed from age 16 to 17. Results supported the hypothesized effect, with more intense close friendships interacting with higher baseline levels of behavioral symptoms to predict greater relative increases in symptoms over time. Effects were observed for both depressive and aggressive symptoms, and appeared with respect to multiple observational measures of friendship intensity. Findings are interpreted as suggesting that seemingly disparate phenomena (e.g., co‐rumination for depression and deviancy‐training for aggression) may both be dependent upon the intensity of the adolescent's social connections.
We examined the effects of a teacher coaching program on discipline referrals using records from 7,794 U.S. classrooms in secondary schools. Some classroom teachers took part in a trial: They were randomized to receive intensive coaching in a focal classroom or to form a business-as-usual control group. The remaining teachers taught in the same schools as the teachers in the trial. Previous research suggested that the coaching program was associated with increasing equity in discipline referrals in focal, coached classrooms. The current study addressed whether effects found in the teachers’ focal, coached classrooms generalized to diverse classrooms in their course load. Results suggested that the coaching program had no generalized effects on reducing referrals with African American students or racial referral gaps in classrooms with coached teachers, relative to the control teachers and the other teachers in the schools. We offer implications for coaching programs and directions for equity-oriented efforts to reduce racial discipline gaps.
This study assessed early adolescent positive and negative affect as long-term predictors of romantic con-flict, anxious and avoidant attachment, romantic and social competence, and relationship satisfaction inadulthood utilizing a longitudinal, multi-informant study of 166 participants assessed annually at ages14–17, and again at ages 23–25. Positive affect in adolescence predicted greater self-rated social compe-tence during late adolescence and greater self-rated romantic competence and less partner-reported hos-tile conflict almost a decade later. Negative affect predicted lower social and romantic competence.Results generally remained significant after controlling for personality traits, providing greater supportfor the hypothesis that affect has a robust, direct relation to romantic development over time.
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.
Objective—Social support is associated with better health. This association may be partly mediated through the social regulation of adrenomedullary activity related to poor cardiovascular health and glucocorticoid activity known to inhibit immune functioning. These physiological cascades originate in the hypothalamic areas that are involved in the neural response to threat. We investigated whether the down regulation, by social support, of hypothalamic responses to threat is associated with better subjective health.
Methods—A diverse community sample of seventy-five individuals, ages 23–26, were recruited from an ongoing longitudinal study. Participants completed the Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) a well-validated self report measure used to assess subjective general health. They were scanned, using fMRI, during a threat of shock paradigm involving various levels of social support, which was manipulated using hand-holding from a close relational partner, a stranger, and an alone condition. We focused on a hypothalamic region of interest (ROI) derived from an independent sample to examine the association between hypothalamic activity and subjective general health.
Results—Results revealed a significant interaction between handholding condition and selfreported general health, F(2, 72) = 3.53, p = .032, partial η 2 = .05. Down regulation of the hypothalamic ROI during partner handholding corresponded with higher self-ratings of general health, ß □= −.31, p =.007.
Conclusion—Higher self-ratings of general health correspond with decreased hypothalamic activity during a task that blends threat with supportive handholding. These results suggest that associations between social support and health are partly mediated through the social regulation of hypothalamic sensitivity to threat.
The potential importance of depending on others during adolescence in order to establish independence in young adulthood was examined across adolescence to emerging adulthood. Participants included 184 teens (46% male; 42% non-White), their mothers, best friends, and romantic partners, assessed at ages 13–14, 18, 21–22, and 25. Path analyses showed that associations were both partner and age specific: markers of independence were predicted by participants’ efforts to seek support from mothers at age 13, best friends at 18, and romantic partners at 21. Importantly, analyses controlled for support seeking from these partners at other ages, as well as for other potentially confounding variables including attachment security, scholastic/job competence, and physical attractiveness over time. Moreover, analyses suggested the transfer of support seeking behavior from mothers to best friends to romantic partners over time based on support given by the previous partner at an earlier age.
Negativity in parent–child relationships during adolescence has been viewed as a risk factor for teens’ future personal and interpersonal adjustment. This study examined support from romantic partners and close friends during late adolescence as protective against maternal negativity experienced during early adolescence. A combination of observational, self-report, and peer-report measures were obtained from a community sample of 97 youth (58 % female), their mothers, closest friends, and romantic partners assessed at ages 13, 18, and 20. Moderating effects suggested a protective effect of romantic support against maternal negativity across a variety of psychosocial outcomes, including depressive symptoms, self-worth, social withdrawal, and externalizing behavior. Protective effects were found even after controlling for initial levels of outcome behavior and observed support from close friends throughout adolescence. Receiving support from a romantic partner may provide teens with new, positive ways of coping with adversity and help them avoid more serious distress that may be predicted from maternal negativity when such support is not available.