The legacy of Stuart Hauser's research into the developmental transformation that takes place from the adolescent living within his or her family to the young adult functioning independently is assessed. Four major themes are identified in this work: the interplay between the intrapsychic and the interpersonal; the need to understand the family in developmental context; the links between development and psychopathology; and the role of resilience in human psychological functioning. Hauser's broad, integrative, and fundamentally optimistic perspective on human nature is discussed as providing a roadmap to guide future research in this area.
The early adolescent’s state of mind in the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) is more closely linked to social interactions with peers, who are unlikely to serve as attachment figures, than it is to (i) qualities of the adolescent’s interactions with parents, (ii) the AAI of the adolescent’s mother, or (iii) the adolescent’s prior Strange Situation behavior. This unexpected finding suggests the value of reconceptualizing AAI autonomy/security as a marker of the adolescent’s capacity for emotion regulation in social interactions. Supporting this, we note that the AAI was originally validated not as a marker of attachment experiences or expectations with one’s caregivers, but as a predictor of caregiving capacity sufficient to produce secure offspring. As such, the AAI may be fruitfully viewed as primarily assessing social emotion regulation capacities that support both strong caregiving skills and strong skills relating with peers.
The frequently observed link between maternal depressive symptoms and heightened maternal reporting of adolescent externalizing behavior was examined from an integrative, systems perspective using a community sample of 180 adolescents, their mothers, fathers, and close peers, assessed twice over a three-year period. Consistent with this perspective, the maternal depressionadolescent externalizing link was found to reflect not simply maternal reporting biases, but heightened maternal sensitivity to independently observable teen misbehavior as well as longterm, predictive links between maternal symptoms and teen behavior. Maternal depressive symptoms predicted relative increases over time in teen externalizing behavior. Child effects were also found, however, in which teen externalizing behavior predicted future relative increases in maternal depressive symptoms. Findings are interpreted as revealing a tightly-linked behavioralaffective system in families with mothers experiencing depressive symptoms and teens engaged in externalizing behavior, and further suggest that research on depressive symptoms in women with adolescent offspring should now consider offspring externalizing behaviors as a significant risk factor.
This study used longitudinal, multi-reporter data, in a community sample, to examine the role of rejection sensitivity in late adolescents’ social and emotional development. Rejection sensitivity was linked to a relative increase in adolescent depressive and anxiety symptoms over a three-year period, even after accounting for teens’ baseline level of social competence. Additionally, reciprocal relationships emerged between rejection sensitivity and internalizing symptoms. Rejection sensitivity was also linked to relative decreases in peer-reports of teens’ social competence over a three-year period. Consistent with research on gendered socialization, males reported higher levels of rejection sensitivity than females at age 16 and 17. Results are interpreted as highlighting the importance of rejection sensitivity in understanding late adolescent social and emotional development.
This study examined online communication on social networking web pages in a longitudinal sample of 92 youths (39 male, 53 female). Participants' social and behavioral adjustment was assessed when they were ages 13–14 years and again at ages 20–22 years. At ages 20–22 years, participants' social networking website use and indicators of friendship quality on their web pages were coded by observers. Results suggested that youths who had been better adjusted at ages 13–14 years were more likely to be using social networking web pages at ages 20–22 years, after statistically controlling for age, gender, ethnicity, and parental income. Overall, youths' patterns of peer relationships, friendship quality, and behavioral adjustment at ages 13–14 years and at ages 20–22 years predicted similar qualities of interaction and problem behavior on their social networking websites at ages 20–22 years. Findings are consistent with developmental theory asserting that youths display cross-situational continuity in their social behaviors and suggest that the conceptualization of continuity may be extended into the online domain.
The current study examined the moderating effects of observed conflict management styles with friends on the link between adolescents’ preoccupied attachment organization and changing levels of depressive symptoms from age 13 to age 18 years. Adolescents and their close friends were observed during a revealed differences task, and friends’ behaviors were coded for both conflict avoidance and overpersonalizing attacks. Results indicated that preoccupied adolescents showed greater relative increases in depressive symptoms when their friends demonstrated overpersonalizing behaviors, vs. greater relative decreases in depressive symptoms when their friends avoided conflict by deferring to them. Results suggest the exquisite sensitivity of preoccupied adolescents to qualities of peer relationships as predictors of future levels of psychological functioning.
The authors propose that under some circumstances peer influence, and the susceptibility to being influenced by peers, may not be such a bad thing after all, especially during adolescence. They tie peer influence to attachment theory and argue that being socialized means being ready to be influenced by others as one navigates the social world. The authors argue that the best way to modify peer influence effects may be to change the values that adolescents communicate with one another. A recent outreach program developed by these authors offers preliminary evidence to support this principle.
This study examined the dual roles of adolescents’ perceptions of social acceptance and sociometric popularity in predicting relative changes over time in adolescents’ social functioning. Observational, self-report, and peer report data were obtained from 164 adolescents who were interviewed at age 13 years and then again at age 14 years, as well as their same-sex close friends. Adolescents who felt positively about their own social standing fared well over time, regardless of their level of sociometric popularity. Further, low popularity was particularly problematic for adolescents who failed to see themselves as fitting in. Results suggest that during adolescence, when it becomes increasingly possible for teens to choose their own social niches, it is possible to be socially successful without being broadly popular.
This study examines the hypothesis that effective parental influence stems from the qualities of the parent-adolescent relationship rather than from explicit efforts to alter adolescents’ behaviors. Adolescents’ versus parents’ perceptions of parental influence as predictors of parent-adolescent relationship quality and of adolescents’ social functioning are examined using observational and multireporter data obtained from a sample of 167 adolescents (90 female, 77 male; age M = 13.34 years, SD = 0.65), their parents, and their same-sex peers. Analyses revealed that adolescents’ and parents’ perceptions of parental influence were uncorrelated with one another and were differentially related to qualities of adolescents’ relationships with parents and friends. Adolescents’ perceptions of high parental influence were linked to observations and self-reports of warm, supportive relationships with parents (particularly mothers). In contrast, parents’ reports of high influence were linked to lower levels of adolescent autonomy with parents and friends and less relatedness with mothers and friends.
The broader context of relational aggression in adolescent romantic relationships was assessed by considering the ways such aggression emerged from prior experiences of peer pressure and was linked to concurrent difficulties in psychosocial functioning. Longitudinal, multi-reporter data were obtained from 97 adolescents and their best friends at age 15 and from adolescents and their romantic partners at age 18. Teens’ relational aggression and romantic partners’ victimization were predicted from levels of best friends’ pressuring behaviors toward teens in an observed interaction as well as from best friends’ ratings of how much pressure teens experienced from their peer group. Romantic partner relational aggression and teen victimization were predicted by pressure from teens’ peer group only. Adolescents’ romantic relational aggression and victimization were also associated with elevated levels of depressive symptoms and increased alcohol use. Results are discussed in terms of the connection of relational aggression in romantic relationships to the broader task of establishing autonomy with peers in psychosocial development.
To test the social learning–based hypothesis that marital conflict resolution patterns are learned in the family of origin, longitudinal, observational data were used to assess prospective associations between family conflict interaction patterns during adolescence and offspring’s later marital conflict interaction patterns. At age 14 years, 47 participants completed an observed family conflict resolution task with their parents. In a subsequent assessment 17 years later, the participants completed measures of marital adjustment and an observed marital conflict interaction task with their spouse. As predicted, levels of hostility and positive engagement expressed by parents and adolescents during family interactions were prospectively linked with levels of hostility and positive engagement expressed by offspring and their spouses during marital interactions. Family-of-origin hostility was a particularly robust predictor of marital interaction behaviors; it predicted later marital hostility and negatively predicted positive engagement, controlling for psychopathology and family-of-origin positive engagement. For men, family-oforigin hostility also predicted poorer marital adjustment, an effect that was mediated through hostility in marital interactions. These findings suggest a long-lasting influence of family communication patterns, particularly hostility, on offspring’s intimate communication and relationship functioning.
Little is known about how to predict which individuals with known temperament vulnerabilities will go on to develop social anxiety problems. Adolescents (N = 185) were followed from age 13 to 18 to evaluate psychosocial, prospective predictors of social anxiety symptoms and fears of negative evaluation (FNE), after accounting for pre-existing social withdrawal symptoms. Results from structural equation modeling suggest that lack of perceived social acceptance predicts subsequent explicit social anxiety and FNE, whereas the emotional intensity of close peer interactions predicts subsequent implicit FNE. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of peer interaction in the development of social anxiety, and the value of measuring both implicit and explicit FNE.
The relation of attachment security to multiple domains of psychosocial functioning was examined in a community sample of 167 early adolescents. Security of attachment organization, assessed using the Adult Attachment Interview, was linked to success in establishing autonomy while maintaining a sense of relatedness both with fathers and with peers, even after accounting for predictions from qualities of the mother-teen relationship. Growth curve analyses revealed links of insecurity to increasing patterns of externalizing behavior and higher and stable patterns of depressive symptoms across adolescence. Implications for a developing theory of the connections of the attachment system to multiple domains of functioning in adolescence are discussed.
A history of exposure to harsh physical discipline has been linked to negative outcomes for children, ranging from conduct disorder to depression and low self-esteem. The present study extends this work into adolescence, and examines the relationship of lifetime histories of harsh discipline to adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing symptoms and to their developing capacities for establishing autonomy and relatedness in family interactions. Adolescent and parent reports of harsh discipline, independently coded observations of conflictual interactions, and adolescent reports of symptoms were obtained for 141 adolescents at age 16. Both parents’ use of harsh discipline was related to greater adolescent depression and externalizing behavior, even when these effects were examined over and above the effects of other parenting measures known to account for these symptoms. Adolescents exposed to harsh discipline from mothers were also less likely to appear warm and engaged during an interaction task with their mothers. It is suggested that a history of harsh discipline is associated not only with social and emotional functioning, but also with the developmental task of autonomy and relatedness.
The present study had three main objectives: (1) to develop and validate scales of young adult social competence in two domains, close relationships and social groups, using peer ratings of California Q-sort (Block, 1974; Kremen & Block, 2002) items; (2) to test the hypothesis that social competence is associated with young adult well-being and ego development; (3) to test the hypothesis that close relationship competence aligns more closely than social group competence with young adult functioning. Psychometric data on peer ratings of social competence are presented. For 133 young adults, peer ratings of social competence were correlated in expected directions with indices of functioning (e.g., self-worth, education, psychological distress, criminal behavior, and ego development). Associations were generally stronger for competence in close relationships than in social groups.
This study examined parent-adolescent autonomous-relatedness functioning in inner-city, ethnic minority families of adolescents exhibiting drug abuse and related problem behaviors. Seventyfour parent-adolescent dyads completed a structured interaction task prior to the start of treatment that was coded using an established autonomous-relatedness measure. Adolescent drug use, externalizing, and internalizing behaviors were assessed. Parents and adolescents completed assessment instruments measuring parenting style and family conflict. Confirmatory factor analysis found significant differences in the underlying dimensions of parent and adolescent autonomous-relatedness in this sample versus previous samples. It was also found that autonomous-relatedness was associated with worse adolescent symptomatology and family impairment. Results based on both self-report and observational measures contribute to the understanding of key family constructs in this population and provide insight for both researchers and the treatment community.
This study used longitudinal, multimethod data to examine specific patterns of behavioral interaction with parents and peers that were hypothesized to predict increasing levels of depressive symptoms in early adolescence. Adolescents' struggles in establishing autonomy and relatedness in interactions with mothers, and a withdrawn, angry, or dependent pattern of behavior with a best friend, were assessed with observational and peer-report methods in a community sample of 143 adolescents, who were also assessed for levels of depressive symptoms at age 13 and with whom the authors followed up 1 year later. Study hypotheses were confirmed, with dysfunctional interaction patterns with parents and peers combining additively to account for substantial change variance in depressive symptoms over time. Results are interpreted as highlighting specific behavioral patterns that may be promising to address via psychosocial interventions targeting adolescent depression.
Adolescents’ susceptibility to peer influence was examined as a marker of difficulties in the general process of autonomy development that was likely to be related to deficits across multiple domains of psychosocial functioning. A laboratory-based assessment of susceptibility to peer influence in interactions with a close friend was developed and examined in relation to corollary reports obtained from adolescents, their mothers, and close peers at ages 13 and 14. As hypothesized, observed susceptibility to peer influence with a close friend predicted future responses to negative peer pressure, but it was also related to broader markers of problems in functioning, including decreases in popularity, and increasing levels of depressive symptoms, over time. Susceptibility to peer influence was also linked to higher concurrent levels of substance use, externalizing behavior, and sexual activity. Results are interpreted as reflecting the central role of establishing autonomy with peers in psychosocial development.
Although success in managing evolving peer relationships is linked to critical adolescent outcomes, little is known about the specific factors that lead to success or failure in peer relationship development across adolescence. This longitudinal study examines the role of adolescents’ level of ego development as a predictor of the future course of several facets of friendship development in early adolescence. Ego development was assessed in a community sample of adolescents at age 13. Several facets of adolescent friendship were also assessed at 13 and then reassessed 1 year later, including adolescent intimate behavior during a supportive interaction with their best friends, adolescent reports of psychological security in their friendships, and peer-rated popularity. As predicted, ego development not only explained concurrent levels of peer functioning but also predicted markers of change over time in each of the assessed domains of peer functioning. Implications for ego development in increasing our understanding of individual differences in adolescent friendship development are discussed.
This study examined attachment organization as a moderator of the link between the quality of the adolescents’ current friendships and delinquent behavior. Data were gathered from a moderately atrisk sample of 71 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse adolescents. Results revealed a moderating effect of attachment organization (as assessed by the AAI) such that strong and supportive friendships were linked to lower levels of delinquency, but only when adolescents’ attachment organization reflected an orientation toward heightened attention to attachment relationships (via preoccupation or via clear lack of dismissal of attachment). These results suggest that attachment organization plays an important role in delineating the conditions under which the qualities of social relationships are likely to be linked to important psychosocial outcomes.