Allen, J. P., Chango, J., Szwedo, D., & Schad, M. (2014). Long-term Sequelae of Sub-clinical Depressive Symptoms in Early Adolescence. Development and Psychopathology , 26 (1), 171-180. LinkAbstract
The long-term social sequelae of adolescent depressive symptoms were examined in a multimethod, multi-reporter study of a diverse community sample of 179 adolescents followed from age 14 to 24. Even mild to moderate levels of early adolescent depressive symptoms strongly predicted loneliness, lower maternal relationship quality, and problematic interactions with romantic partners in adulthood, even after accounting for prior levels of social functioning and concurrent levels of adult depressive symptoms. Predictions were partially mediated via late adolescent avoidance of social interactions and poor maternal relationship quality. Results are interpreted as suggesting the potential impact of depressive symptoms on core tasks of adolescent social development, with potential implications for the need for treatment of even mild symptoms and their social concomitants.
Dawson, A. E., Allen, J. P., Marston, E. G., Hafen, C. A., & Schad, M. M. (2014). Adolescent insecure attachment as a predictor of maladaptive coping and externalizing behaviors in emerging adulthood. Attachment & Human Development , 16 (5), 462-478. LinkAbstract
This study investigated whether insecure adolescent attachment organization (i.e., preoccupied and dismissing) longitudinally predicted self- and peer-reported externalizing behavior in emerging adulthood. Secondarily, maladaptive coping strategies were examined for their potential role in mediating the relationship between insecure attachment and future externalizing behaviors. Target participants (N = 184) were given the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) at age 14 and reinterviewed seven and eight years later with their closest peer. Qualities of both preoccupied and dismissing attachment organization predicted self-reported externalizing behaviors in emerging adulthood eight years later, but only preoccupation was predictive of close-peer reports of emerging adult externalizing behavior. Maladaptive coping strategies only mediated the relationship between a dismissing stance toward attachment and future self-reported externalizing behaviors. Understanding the role of coping and emotional regulation in attachment may help us to understand the unique aspects of both dismissing and preoccupied stances toward attachment.
Hafen, C. A., Spilker, A., Chango, J. M., Marston, E. S., & Allen, J. P. (2014). To Accept or Reject? The Impact of Adolescent Rejection Sensitivity on Early Adult Romantic Relationships. Journal of Research on Adolescence , 24 (1), 55-64. LinkAbstract
Successfully navigating entry into romantic relationships is a key task in adolescence, which sensitivity to rejection can make difficult to accomplish. This study uses multi-informant data from a community sample of 180 adolescents assessed repeatedly from age 16 to 22. Individuals with elevated levels of rejection sensitivity at age 16 were less likely to have a romantic partner at age 22, reported more anxiety and avoidance when they did have relationships, and were observed to be more negative in their interactions with romantic partners. In addition, females whose rejection sensitivity increased during late adolescence were more likely to adopt a submissive pattern within adult romantic relationships, further suggesting a pattern in which rejection sensitivity forecasts difficulties.
Maresh, E. L., Allen, J. P., & Coan, J. A. (2014). Increased default mode network activity in socially anxious individuals during reward processing. Biology of Mood and Anxiety Disorders , 4 (7). LinkAbstract

Background: Social anxiety has been associated with potentiated negative affect and, more recently, with diminished positive affect. It is unclear how these alterations in negative and positive affect are represented neurally in socially anxious individuals and, further, whether they generalize to non-social stimuli. To explore this, we used a monetary incentive paradigm to explore the association between social anxiety and both the anticipation and consumption of non-social incentives. Eighty-four individuals from a longitudinal community sample underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while participating in a monetary incentive delay (MID) task. The MID task consisted of alternating cues indicating the potential to win or prevent losing varying amounts of money based on the speed of the participant’s response. We examined whether self-reported levels of social anxiety, averaged across approximately 7 years of data, moderated brain activity when contrasting gain or loss cues with neutral cues during the anticipation and outcome phases of incentive processing. Whole brain analyses and analyses restricted to the ventral striatum for the anticipation phase and the medial prefrontal cortex for the outcome phase were conducted.

Results: Social anxiety did not associate with differences in hit rates or reaction times when responding to cues. Further, socially anxious individuals did not exhibit decreased ventral striatum activity during anticipation of gains or decreased MPFC activity during the outcome of gain trials, contrary to expectations based on literature indicating blunted positive affect in social anxiety. Instead, social anxiety showed positive associations with extensive regions implicated in default mode network activity (for example, precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, and parietal lobe) during anticipation and receipt of monetary gain. Social anxiety was further linked with decreased activity in the ventral striatum during anticipation of monetary loss.

Conclusions: Socially anxious individuals may increase default mode network activity during reward processing, suggesting high self-focused attention even in relation to potentially rewarding stimuli lacking explicit social connotations. Additionally, social anxiety may relate to decreased ventral striatum reactivity when anticipating potential losses.

Brown, C. L., Oudekerk, B. A., Szwedo, D. E., & Allen, J. P. (2013). Inter-Parent Aggression as a Precursor to Disengagement Coping in Emerging Adulthood: The Buffering Role of Friendship Competence. Social Development , 22 (4), 683-700. LinkAbstract
Using multi-informant data drawn from a prospective study involving 184 youth, mother perpetrated and father perpetrated partner aggression during early adolescence (age 13) was examined as a predictor of five types of disengagement coping strategies in emerging adulthood (age 21): behavioral disengagement, mental disengagement, denial, substance use, and restraint. The ability to develop close friendships, or friendship competence, was examined as a moderator of these links. Results suggest that inter-parent aggression in early adolescence can predict reliance on disengagement coping eight years later, but that friendship competence can buffer against the reliance on disengagement coping. Moreover, close friendship competence was not directly related to partner aggression by mothers or fathers, suggesting that friendship competence develops along an independent developmental track, and thus may truly serve as a buffer for young adults with a history of exposure to inter-parent aggression.
Coan, J. A., Beckes, L., & Allen, J. P. (2013). Childhood Maternal Support and Social Capital Moderate the Regulatory Impact of Social Relationships in Adulthood. International Journal of Psychophysiology , 88 (3), 224-231. LinkAbstract
For this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we assessed the impact of early social experiences on the social regulation of neural threat responding in a sample of 22 individuals that have been followed for over a decade. At 13 years old, a multidimensional measure of neighborhood quality was derived from parental reports. Three measures of neighborhood quality were used to estimate social capital—the level of trust, reciprocity, cooperation, and shared resources within a community. At 16 years old, an observational measure of maternal emotional support behavior was derived from a mother/child social interaction task. At 24 years old, participants were asked to visit our neuroimaging facility with an opposite-sex platonic friend. During their MRI visit, participants were subjected to the threat of electric shock while holding their friend’s hand, the hand of an anonymous opposite-sex experimenter, or no hand at all. Higher adolescent maternal support corresponded with less threat-related activation during friend handholding, but not during the stranger or alone conditions, in the bilateral orbitofrontal cortex, inferior frontal gyrus and left insula. Higher neighborhood social capital corresponded with less threat-related activation during friend hand-holding in the superior frontal gyrus, supplementary motor cortex, insula, putamen and thalamus; but low childhood capital corresponded with less threat-related activation during stranger handholding in the same regions. Exploratory analyses suggest this latter result is due to increased threat responsiveness during stranger handholding among low social capital individuals, even during safety cues. Overall, early maternal support behavior and high neighborhood quality may potentiate soothing by relational partners, and low neighborhood quality may decrease the overall regulatory impact of access to social resources in adulthood.
Miga, E. M., Gdula, J. A., & Allen, J. P. (2012). Fighting fair: Adaptive Marital Conflict Strategies as Predictors of Future Adolescent Peer and Romantic Relationship Quality. Social Development , 21 (3), 446-460. LinkAbstract
This study examined the associations between reasoning during interparental conflict and autonomous adolescent conflict negotiation with peers over time. Participants included 133 adolescents and their parents, peers, and romantic partners in a multi-method, multiple reporter, longitudinal study. Interparental reasoning at adolescent age 13 predicted greater autonomy and relatedness in observed adolescent-peer conflict one year later and lower levels of autonomy undermining during observed romantic partner conflict five years later. Interparental reasoning also predicted greater satisfaction and affection in adolescent romantic relationships seven years later. Findings suggest that autonomy promoting behaviors exhibited in the interparental context may influence adolescents’ own more autonomous approaches to subsequent peer and romantic conflict. Possible explanatory models are discussed, including social learning theory and attachment theory.
Allen, J. P., Chango, J., Szwedo, D., Schad, M., & Marston, E. (2012). Predictors of Susceptibility to Peer Influence Regarding Substance Use in Adolescence. Child Development , 83 (1), 337-350. LinkAbstract
The extent to which peer influences on substance use in adolescence systematically vary in strength based on qualities of the adolescent and his or her close friend was assessed in a study of 157 adolescents (Age: M = 13.35, SD = 0.64), their close friends and their parents assessed longitudinally with a combination of observational, analogue, sociometric, and self-report measures from early to mid-adolescence. The degree to which adolescents changed their levels of substance use in accord with their peers' baseline levels of use was predicted by a range of theoretically-salient factors including: observed teen lack of autonomy and social support in prior interactions with mothers, low teen refusal skills, and the level of social acceptance of their close friend. Findings suggest the importance of both internal factors (e.g., autonomy and relatedness struggles) and external factors (e.g., social status of friends) in explaining why vulnerability to peer influence processes may be much greater for some adolescents than others.
Chango, J. M., McElhaney, K. B., Allen, J. P., Schad, M. M., & Marston, E. (2012). Relational Stressors and Depressive Symptoms in Late Adolescence: Rejection Sensitivity as a Vulnerability. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology , 40 (3), 369-379. LinkAbstract
The role of rejection sensitivity as a critical diathesis moderating the link between adolescent relational stressors and depressive symptoms was examined using multi-method, multi-reporter data from a diverse community sample of 173 adolescents, followed from age 16 to 18. Relational stressors examined included emotional abuse, maternal behavior undermining adolescents’ autonomy and relatedness, and lack of support from close peers. As hypothesized, multiple relational stressors were found to predict the future development of depressive symptoms, but as hypothesized predictions existed primarily for adolescents who were highly rejection sensitive. Results are discussed in terms of a diathesis-stress model of depression and suggest that though relational stressors have previously shown consistent modest links to depressive symptoms, understanding pre-existing intrapsychic vulnerabilities of the adolescent may be critical to identifying the processes by which such stressors lead to depressive symptoms.
Hafen, C. A., Allen, J. P., Mikami, A. Y., Gregory, A., Hamre, B., & Pianta, R. C. (2012). The Pivotal Role of Adolescent Autonomy in Secondary School Classrooms. Journal of Youth and Adolescence , 41 (3), 245-255. LinkAbstract
Student engagement is an important contributor to school success, yet high school students routinely describe themselves as disengaged. Identifying factors that alter (increase) engagement is a key aspect of improving support for student achievement. This study investigated students’ perceptions of autonomy, teacher connection, and academic competence as predictors of changes in student engagement within the classroom from the start to the end of a course. Participants were 578 (58% female) diverse (67.8% White, 25.2% African American, 5.1% Hispanic, 1.2% Asian American) high school students from 34 classrooms who provided questionnaire data both at the start and the end of a single course. Novel results from a cross-lagged model demonstrated that students who perceived their classrooms as allowing and encouraging their own autonomy in the first few weeks increased their engagement throughout the course, rather than the typical decline in engagement that was demonstrated by students in other classrooms. This finding is unique in that it extended to both students’ perceptions of engagement and observations of student engagement, suggesting a fairly robust pattern. The pertinence of this finding to adolescent developmental needs and its relationship to educational practice is discussed.
Hauser, S. T., Allen, J. P., & Schulz, M. S. (2012). Exceptional Outcomes: Using Narratives and Family Observations to Understand Resilience. Adolescence and Beyond. Link
McElhaney, K. B., & Allen, J. P. (2012). Sociocultural Perspectives on Adolescent Autonomy. Adolescence and Beyond. Link
Pianta, R. C., Hamre, B. K., & Allen, J. P. (2012). Teacher-Student Relationships and Engagement: Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Improving the Capacity of Classroom Interactions. Handbook of Research on Student Engagement. LinkAbstract
Classrooms are complex social systems, and student-teacher relationships and interactions are also complex, multicomponent systems. We posit that the nature and quality of relationship interactions between teachers and students are fundamental to understanding student engagement, can be assessed through standardized observation methods, and can be changed by providing teachers knowledge about developmental processes relevant for classroom interactions and personalized feedback/support about their interactive behaviors and cues. When these supports are provided to teachers’ interactions, student engagement increases. In this chapter, we focus on the theoretical and empirical links between interactions and engagement and present an approach to intervention designed to increase the quality of such interactions and, in turn, increase student engagement and, ultimately, learning and development. Recognizing general principles of development in complex systems, a theory of the classroom as a setting for development, and a theory of change specific to this social setting are the ultimate goals of this work. Engagement, in this context, is both an outcome in its own right and a mediator of impacts that teachers have on student outcomes through their interactions with children and youth. In light of this discussion, we offer suggestions or directions for further research in this area.
Szwedo, D. E., Mikami, A. Y., & Allen, J. P. (2012). Social Networking Site Use Predicts Changes in Young Adults’ Psychological Adjustment. Journal of Research on Adolescence , 22 (3), 453-466. LinkAbstract
This study examined youths’ friendships and posted pictures on social networking sites as predictors of changes in their adjustment over time. Observational, self-report, and peer report data were obtained from a community sample of 89 young adults interviewed at age 21 and again at age 22. Findings were consistent with a leveling effect for online friendships, predicting decreases in internalizing symptoms for youth with lower initial levels of social acceptance, but increases in symptoms for youth with higher initial levels over the following year. Across the entire sample, deviant behavior in posted photos predicted increases in young adults’ problematic alcohol use over time. The importance of considering the interplay between online and offline social factors for predicting adjustment is discussed.
Szwedo, D. E., Mikami, A. Y., & Allen, J. P. (2011). Qualities of Peer Relations on Social Networking Websites: Predictions from Negative Mother-Teen Interactions. Journal of Research on Adolescence , 21 (3), 595-607. LinkAbstract
This study examined associations between characteristics of teenagers’ relationships with their mothers and their later socializing behavior and peer relationship quality online. At age 13, teenagers and their mothers participated in an interaction in which mothers’ and adolescents’ behavior undermining autonomy and relatedness was observed, and indicators of teens’ depressive symptoms and social anxiety were assessed. At age 20, youth self-reported on their online behaviors, youths’ social networking webpages were observationally coded to assess peer relationship quality online, and symptoms of depression and social anxiety were reassessed. Results suggested that problematic mother-teen relationships were predictive of youths’ later preference for online communication and greater likelihood of forming a friendship with someone met online, yet poorer quality in online relationships. Findings are discussed within a developmental framework suggesting the importance of considering youths’ family interactions during early adolescence as predictors of future online socializing behavior and online interactions with peers.
Allen, J. P., Pianta, R. C., Gregory, A., Mikami, A. Y., & Lun, J. (2011). An Interaction-Based Approach to Enhancing Secondary School Instruction and Student Achievement. Science , 333 (6045), 1034-1037. LinkAbstract
Improving teaching quality is widely recognized as critical to addressing deficiencies in secondary school education, yet the field has struggled to identify rigorously evaluated teacher-development approaches that can produce reliable gains in student achievement. A randomized controlled trial of My Teaching Partner–Secondary—a Web-mediated approach focused on improving teacherstudent interactions in the classroom—examined the efficacy of the approach in improving teacher quality and student achievement with 78 secondary school teachers and 2237 students. The intervention produced substantial gains in measured student achievement in the year following its completion, equivalent to moving the average student from the 50th to the 59th percentile in achievement test scores. Gains appeared to be mediated by changes in teacher-student interaction qualities targeted by the intervention.
Hare, A. L., Marston, E. G., & Allen, J. P. (2011). Maternal Acceptance and Adolescents’ Emotional Communication: A Longitudinal Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence , 40 (6), 744-751. LinkAbstract
With substantive evidence suggesting that adolescents’ disclosure is likely a protective factor against problem behaviors, as well as evidence that many adolescents will go to great lengths to avoid sharing information with parents, one may conclude that parents’ face a formidable task. Previous studies have identified parental acceptance as a concurrent correlate of adolescents’ behavioral disclosure, but have neglected to investigate potential ways that parents could encourage their adolescents to feel comfortable disclosing emotional information. The present study extends the literature by using a longitudinal, multi-method, multi-reporter design to examine whether maternal acceptance is predictive of emotional disclosure over time among a racially/socioeconomically diverse sample of 184 adolescents (53% female). Results indicate that adolescents who perceive their mothers as high in acceptance during early adolescence exhibit greater relative increases in both self-reported emotional communication and observed emotional disclosure to their mothers 3 years later. Interestingly, mothers’ perceptions of their own acceptance does not provide any additional predictive value. These findings support the notion that adolescents’ emotional disclosure is an ongoing process that can be fostered in early adolescence, and emphasize the importance of considering adolescents’ perceptions of the relationship to successfully do so.
Mikami, A. Y., Gregory, A., Allen, J. P., Pianta, R. C., & Lun, J. (2011). Effects of a Teacher Professional Development Intervention on Peer Relationships in Secondary Classrooms. School Psychology Review , 40 (3), 367-385. LinkAbstract
We investigated the effects of My Teaching Partner—Secondary (MTP-S), a teacher professional development intervention, on students’ peer relationships in middle and high school classrooms. MTP-S targets increasing teachers’ positive interactions with students and sensitive instructional practices and has demonstrated improvements in students’ academic achievement and motivation. The current study tested the prediction from systems theory that effects of MTP-S on students would extend beyond the academic domain—that is, the ecology of teachers’ behaviors towards students should also influence the ecology of students’ behaviors towards one another. Participants were 88 teachers (43 randomly assigned to MTP-S and 45 assigned to a control group that received the regular professional development offerings in their school) and 1423 students in their classrooms. Observations and student self-report of classroom peer interactions were collected at the start and at the end of the course. Results indicated that in MTP-S classrooms, students were observed to show improvement in positive peer interactions, although this pattern was not found in self-report data. However, moderation analyses suggested that for students with high disruptive behavior at the start of the course, teacher participation in MTP-S mitigated a typical decline towards poorer self-reported peer relationships. The relevance of findings for the social ecology of classrooms is discussed.
Mikami, A. Y., & Szwedo, D. E. (2011). Social Networking in Online and Offline Contexts. Encyclopedia of Adolescence. Link
Hare, A. L., Miga, E. M., & Allen, J. P. (2010). Intergenerational Transmission of Aggression in Romantic Relationships: The Moderating Role of Attachment Security. Journal of Family Psychology , 23 (6), 808-818. LinkAbstract
This prospective study used longitudinal, multi-reporter data to examine the influence of parents’ marital relationship functioning on subsequent adolescent romantic relationships. Consistent with Bryant and Conger’s model for the development of early adult romantic relationships (DEARR; 2002), we found that interactional styles, more specifically paternal aggression and satisfaction, exhibited in parents’ marital relationship when their adolescents were age 13, were predictive of qualities of the adolescent’s romantic relationships five years later. Continuities were domain specific: paternal satisfaction predicted adolescent satisfaction and paternal aggression predicted adolescent aggression. Attachment security moderated the link between paternal aggression and subsequent adolescent aggression, with continuities between negative conflictual styles across relationships reduced for secure adolescents. Results are interpreted as suggesting that attachment may help attenuated the transmission of destructive conflict strategies across generations.