This study assessed the hypothesis that popularity in adolescence takes on a twofold role, both marking high levels of concurrent psychosocial adaptation, but also predicting increases over time in both positive and negative behaviors sanctioned by peer norms. This hypothesis was tested with multi-method, longitudinal data obtained on a diverse community sample of 185 adolescents. Sociometric popularity data were examined in relation to data from interview-based assessments of attachment security and ego development, observations of mother-adolescent interactions, and repeated self- and peer-report assessments of delinquency and alcohol use. Results indicated that popular adolescents displayed higher concurrent levels of ego development, secure attachment and more adaptive interactions with mothers and best friends. Longitudinal analyses supported a “popularity-socialization” hypothesis, however, in which popular adolescents were more likely to increase in behaviors that receive approval in the peer group (e.g., minor levels of drug use and delinquency) and decrease in behaviors unlikely to be well-received by peers (e.g., hostile behavior with peers).
This study examined whether attachment theory could be used to shed light on the often high degree of discordance between self- and observer-ratings of behavioral functioning and symptomatology. Interview-based assessments of attachment organization, using the Adult Attachment Interview, were examined as predictors of the lack of agreement between self- and other-reports of behavioral and emotional problems among 176 moderately at-risk adolescents. Lack of agreement was measured in terms of concordance of adolescent- and parent- or close friend-report on equivalent measures of behavioral and emotional adjustment. Insecure-dismissing attachment was linked to less agreement in absolute terms between self- and mother-reports of externalizing symptoms, and between adolescent- and close friend-reports of behavioral conduct. Insecure-preoccupied attachment was associated with higher levels of adolescent reporting of internalizing and externalizing symptoms relative to parent-reports of adolescent symptomatology. The findings suggest that attachment organization may be one factor that accounts for individual differences in the degree of discordance between self- and other-reports of symptoms in adolescence.
Within-family covariation between interparental hostility and adolescent behavior across three interactions over a 2-year period was explored in a sample that included 37 typical adolescents and 35 adolescents recently hospitalized for psychiatric difficulties. More interparental hostility across the three interactions was associated with more adolescent hostility and more positive engagement (at a trend level) regardless of psychiatric background. Parent-to-child hostility in each interaction mediated the link for adolescent hostility but not for positive adolescent engagement. Emotion regulation capacities and age were linked to variability in adolescents’ behavior in the presence of interparental conflict. In interactions with more interparental hostility, adolescents with greater capacity to tolerate negative affect were more likely to show increased positive engagement, and adolescents who were better able to modulate their emotional expression were less likely to show increased hostility. Covariation between interparental and adolescent hostility across the three family interactions decreased as the adolescent aged. These findings are consistent with the theory that exposure to interparental hostility is emotionally disequilibrating, and that adolescent responses may reflect differences in emotion regulation and other developmentally based capacities. Gender and variations across families in overall levels of hostile parenting were also linked with adolescent behavior in the presence of interparental hostility.
Background Adolescents with early psychiatric hospitalization are likely to be at a significant risk for long-term difficulties.
Objective To examine early adulthood outcomes of psychiatrically hospitalized adolescents.
Design Inception cohort recruited from 1978 to 1981 and observed until 2002.
Setting Northeastern United States.
Participants Adolescents (aged 12-15 years) from 2 matched cohorts were recruited and assessed repeatedly across 20 years: 70 psychiatrically hospitalized youths and 76 public high school students.
Main Outcome Measures Death, emotional distress, high school completion, and educational attainment.
Results Psychiatrically hospitalized youths were significantly more likely to die and to report higher levels of emotional distress. Hospitalized youths were significantly less likely to graduate from high school and complete college and graduate school.
Conclusions The association between psychiatric symptoms sufficient to result in psychiatric hospitalization during adolescence and later mortality, emotional distress, high school completion, and educational attainment is striking. Further study is needed to identify and understand linkages between adolescent psychiatric impairment and decrements in adult functioning, particularly the processes that may underlie these linkages. Increasing school completion and educational attainment among hospitalized youths may minimize decrements in adult adaptation.
This study examined both continuity and familial, intrapsychic, and environmental predictors of change in adolescent attachment security across a two-year period from mid- to late-adolescence. Assessments included the Adult Attachment Interview, observed mother-adolescent interactions, test-based data, and adolescent self-reports obtained from an ethnically and socio-economically diverse sample of moderately at-risk adolescents interviewed at ages 16 and 18. Substantial stability in security was identified. Beyond this stability, however, relative declines in attachment security were predicted by adolescents’ enmeshed, overpersonalizing behavior with their mothers, depressive symptoms, and poverty status. Results suggest that while security may trend upward for non-stressed adolescents, stressors that overwhelm the capacity for affect regulation and that are not easily assuaged by parents predict relative declines in security. over time.
In this report, we drew on data from an ongoing longitudinal study that began in 1978 (Hauser, Powers, Noam, Jacobson, Weiss, & Folansbee, 1984). Focusing on late, young-adult life among individuals who were psychiatrically hospitalized during adolescence, we examined markers of resilience empirically defined in terms of adult success and well-being. The study includes a demographically similar group recruited from a public high school. Major goals were to (a) develop preliminary models of adaptive functioning among adults in their 30s, (b) examine the extent to which adults with histories of serious mental disorders can be characterized by these models, and (c) explore predictors of successful adult lives from indicators of individuals' psychosocial adjustment at age 25. Results showed significant cohort effects on indexes of adaptive functioning, especially for men. Findings suggest that social relations as well as self-views of competence and relatedness play important roles in characterizing adjustment during the adult years. In addition, indexes of psychosocial adjustment as well as symptoms of psychiatric distress and hard drug use at age 25 made a difference in adult social functioning and well-being, providing hints of possible mechanisms likely to facilitate the ability to “bounce back” after a difficult adolescence.
Adolescent ego-development trajectories were related to close-relationship outcomes in young adulthood. An adolescent sample completed annual measures of ego development from ages 14 through 17. The authors theoretically determined and empirically traced five ego-development trajectories reflecting stability or change. At age 25, the sample completed a close-relationship interview and consented for two peers to rate the participants’ego resiliency and hostility. Participants who followed the profound-arrest trajectory in adolescence reported more mundane sharing of experiences, more impulsive or egocentric conflict-resolution tactics, and less mature interpersonal understanding in their young adult relationships, and their young adult peers described these participants as more hostile. Participants who attained or maintained higher levels of ego development in adolescence reported more complex sharing of experiences, more collaborative conflict-resolution strategies, and greater interpersonal understanding, and their young adult peers rated them as less hostile and as more flexible.
This study examined links between emotion expression in couple interactions and marital quality and stability. Core aspects of emotion expression in marital interactions were identified with the use of naïve observational coding by multiple raters. Judges rated 47 marital discussions with 15 emotion descriptors. Coders’ pooled ratings yielded good reliability on 4 types of emotion expression: hostility, distress, empathy, and affection. These 4 types were linked with concurrent marital satisfaction and interviewer ratings of marital adjustment as well as with marital stability at a 5-year follow-up. The study also examined the extent to which naïve judges’ ratings of emotion expression correspond to “expert” ratings using the Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF). The unique advantages of naïve coding of emotion expression in marital interaction are discussed.
This study sought to identify ways in which adolescent attachment security, as assessed via the Adult Attachment Interview, is manifest in qualities of the secure base provided by the mother– adolescent relationship. Assessments included data coded from mother–adolescent interactions, test-based data, and adolescent self-reports obtained from an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of moderately at-risk 9th and 10th graders. This study found several robust markers of adolescent attachment security in the mother–adolescent relationship. Each of these markers was found to contribute unique variance to explaining adolescent security, and in combination, they accounted for as much as 40% of the raw variance in adolescent security. These findings suggest that security is closely connected to the workings of the mother–adolescent relationship via a secure-base phenomenon, in which the teen can explore independence in thought and speech from the secure base of a maternal relationship characterized by maternal attunement to the adolescent and maternal supportiveness.
A diathesis-stress interaction model is used to describe multifinality in adolescent internalizing and risky behavioral outcomes. Problematic behavior associated with adolescent insecure preoccupation (a diathesis) was expected to interact with the level of maternal autonomous discourse (a stressor) to predict specific adolescent outcomes. Assessments of adolescent preoccupied attachment organization, observations of maternal displays of autonomy in mother–adolescent interactions, and adolescent reports of internalizing symptoms and risky behaviors were obtained at age 16. As predicted, maternal autonomy in the mother–adolescent relationship helped to explain multifinality in dysfunctional symptoms among preoccupied adolescents. Adolescent preoccupation was more strongly linked to internalizing behavior when mothers demonstrated low levels of autonomy in interactions with their adolescents and more strongly linked to risky behavior when mothers displayed extremely high levels of autonomy. Implications for autonomy processes in increasing our understanding of how adolescent insecure–preoccupation relates to profiles of specific problems during adolescence are discussed as is the importance of exploring the role of attachment in different contexts.
This study examines links between attachment states of mind and relationship schemas in a sample of 40 young adults, half of whom were hospitalized as adolescents for psychiatric treatment. Participants were interviewed about their closest relationships, and, using the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme method, their narratives about these relationships were analyzed for the relative frequency with which they expressed wishes for closeness and for autonomy in relation to others. Participants were also administered the Adult Attachment Interview and were classified with respect to security of attachment. Security of attachment was associated with the relative frequency with which participants expressed wishes for autonomy in their narratives about close relationships, even after accounting for current levels of psychological functioning and history of serious psychopathology in adolescence. Security of attachment was not associated with the relative frequency with which participants expressed wishes for closeness. The study suggests that core relational wishes for autonomy are linked specifically with subtypes of insecure attachment. These findings extend what is known about connections between the representation of early attachment relationships and the wishes and needs expressed in current relationships with significant others.
Observed parent–adolescent autonomy struggles were assessed as potential predictors of the development of peer-rated hostility over a decade later in young adulthood in both normal and previously psychiatrically hospitalized groups of adolescents. Longitudinal, multireporter data were obtained by coding family interactions involving 83 adolescents and their parents at age 16 years and then obtaining ratings by close friends of adolescents’ hostility at age 25 years. Fathers’ behavior undermining adolescents’ autonomy in interactions at age 16 years were predictive of adolescentsas-young-adults’ hostility, as rated by close friends at age 25 years. These predictions contributed additional variance to understanding young adult hostility even after accounting for concurrent levels of adolescent hostility at age 16 years and paternal hostility at this age, each of which also significantly contributed to predicting future hostility. Results are discussed as highlighting a pathway by which difficulties attaining autonomy in adolescence may presage the development of long-term difficulties in social functioning.
This study examined adolescent attachment organization as a predictor of the development of social skills and delinquent behavior during midadolescence. Delinquent activity and skill levels were assessed for 117 moderately at-risk adolescents at ages 16 and 18, and maternal and adolescent attachment organization and autonomy in interactions were assessed at age 16. Adolescent attachment security predicted relative increases in social skills from age 16 to 18, whereas an insecure–preoccupied attachment organization predicted increasing delinquency during this period. In addition, preoccupied teens interacting with highly autonomous mothers showed greater relative decreases in skill levels and increases in delinquent activity over time, suggesting a heightened risk for deviance among preoccupied teens who may be threatened by growing autonomy in adolescent– parent interactions.
Relationship schemas are core elements of personality that guide interpersonal functioning. The aim of this study is to examine stability and change in relationship schemas across two developmental epochs—adolescence and young adulthood—in the stories that people tell about their interactions with others. Using the Core Conflictual Relationship Theme Method, relationship themes were coded from semistructured interviews conducted in adolescence and again at age 25. The sample consisted of 40 participants in a longitudinal study of adolescent and young adult psychological development. There was considerable stability in the frequency with which particular themes were expressed in the narratives of adolescents and young adults. Significant changes from adolescence to young adulthood included a decrease in the perception of others as rejecting and of the self as opposing others. Young adults saw themselves and others more positively, and used a broader repertoire of themes in their relationship narratives than they had as adolescents. The basic continuity and particular changes in relationship schemas found in this study are consistent with knowledge about the adolescent-to-young-adult transition derived from other empirical and clinical findings. Relationship schemas may be rich units of study for learning about the development of interpersonal functioning.
This study examined a highly successful, well-documented, national program to prevent teenage pregnancy and school failure—the Teen Outreach program—to address a fundamental question: How well can a developmentally focused, broadly targeted prevention program address the needs of those students within the program who are at the highest risk of problematic behavior. The hypothesis that the developmental focus of a broadly targeted intervention would lead it to have greater program efficacy among those young people who began the program at greatest risk was examined with multisite data collected on more than 3,300 Teen Outreach and comparison group students. Results confirmed prior findings regarding the overall efficacy of the Teen Outreach program, and indicated that the program appeared most effective for those students at greatest initial risk of the problem behaviors being targeted. Implications for the targeting of the Teen Outreach program specifically and of similar primary prevention programs more generally are discussed.
A model of problematic adolescent behavior that expands current theories of social skill deficits in delinquent behavior to consider both social skills and orientation toward the use of adaptive skills was examined in an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of 113 male and female adolescents. Adolescents were selected on the basis of moderate to serious risk for difficulties in social adaptation in order to focus on the population of youth most likely to be targeted by prevention efforts. Structural equation modeling was used to examine cross-sectional data using multiple informants (adolescents, peers, and parents) and multiple methods (performance test and self-report). Adolescent social orientation, as reflected in perceived problem solving effectiveness, identification with adult prosocial values, and self-efficacy expectations, exhibited a direct association to delinquent behavior and an indirect association to drug involvement mediated by demonstrated success in using problem solving skills. Results suggest that the utility of social skill theories of adolescent problem behaviors for informing preventive and remedial interventions can be enhanced by expanding them to consider adolescents’ orientation toward using the skills they may already possess.
This study examined the moderating effect of risk on the relation between autonomy processes and family and adolescent functioning. The present sample comprised 131 adolescents from either a lowrisk or high-risk social context, their mothers, and their peers. Observational ratings of autonomy processes within the mother-adolescent dyad were obtained, along with adolescent reports of the quality of the mother-adolescent relationship, and both adolescent and peer reports of the adolescent’s functioning. Consistent with past research, in low-risk families, behavior undermining autonomy was negatively related to relationship quality, and adolescents’ expressions of autonomy were linked with positive indices of social functioning. In high-risk families, however, undermining of autonomy was positively linked with mother-adolescent relationship quality, and adolescents’ expressions of autonomy were linked with negative indices of social functioning. Results are interpreted as demonstrating the ways in which the developmental task of attaining autonomy in adolescence is systematically altered depending on the level of risk and challenge in the adolescent’s social context.
To explore the meaning and function of attachment organization during adolescence, its relation to multiple domains of psychosocial functioning was examined in a sample of 131 moderately at-risk adolescents. Attachment organization was assessed using the Adult Attachment Interview; multiple measures of functioning were obtained from parents, adolescents, and their peers. Seczurity displayed in adolescents' organization of discourse about attachment experiences was related to competence with peers (as reported by peers), lower levels of internalizing behaviors (as reported by adolescents), and lower levels of deviant behavior (as reported by peers and by mothers). Preoccupation with attachment experiences, seen in angry or diffuse and unfocused discussion of attachment experiences, was linked to higher levels of both internalizing and deviant behaviors. These relations generally remained even when other attachment-related constructs that had been previously related to adolescent functioning were covaried in analyses. Results are interpreted as suggesting an important role for attachment organization in a wide array of aspects of adolescent psychosocial development.
A true experimental evaluation was conducted of a national volunteer service program, Teen Outreach, that was designed to prevent adolescent problem behaviors by enhancing normative processes of social development in high school students. This evaluation addressed 2 problem behaviors in adolescence—teenage pregnancy and school failure—for which experimental evidence about successful preventive programs has been largely lacking. High school students (N=695) in 25 sites nationwide were randomly assigned to either a Teen Outreach or Control group and were assessed at both program entry and at program exit 9 months later. Rates of pregnancy, school failure, and academic suspension at exit were substantially lower in the Teen Outreach group, even after accounting for student sociodemographic characteristics and entry differences between groups. Results are interpreted as suggesting the potential value both of the Teen Outreach Program specifically and also more generally of interventions that seek to prevent problem behaviors by addressing broad developmental tasks of adolescence rather than by focusing upon individual problem behaviors or micro skills.