Pseudomature behavior—ranging from minor delinquency to precocious romantic involvement— is widely viewed as a nearly normative feature of adolescence. When such behavior occurs early in adolescence, however, it was hypothesized to reflect a misguided overemphasis upon impressing peers and was considered likely to predict long-term adjustment problems. In a multimethod, multi-reporter study following a community sample of 184 adolescents from age 13 to 23, early adolescent pseudomature behavior was linked cross-sectionally to a heightened desire for peer popularity and to short-term success with peers. Longitudinal results, however, supported the study’s central hypothesis: Early adolescent pseudomature behavior predicted long-term difficulties in close relationships, as well as significant problems with alcohol and substance use, and elevated levels of criminal behavior.
The long-term import of a fundamental challenge of adolescent social development—establishing oneself as a desirable peer companion while avoiding problematic behaviors often supported within peer groups—was examined in a community sample of 184 adolescents, followed from ages 13 to 23, along with parents, peers, and romantic partners. The dialectical nature of this challenge appeared in findings that autonomy vis-a-vis peer influences predicted both long-term success avoiding problematic behavior, but also more difficulty establishing strong adult friendships. Conversely, being a desirable peer companion in adolescence predicted more positive adult relationships, but also greater alcohol use. Adolescents who established themselves as both desirable companions and as autonomous vis-à-vis peers were rated as most successful by their parents at age 23.
Maternal and paternal psychological control, peer attitudes, and the interaction of psychological control and peer attitudes at age 13 were examined as predictors of risky sexual behavior before age 16 in a community sample of 181 youth followed from age 13 to 16. Maternal psychological control moderated the link between peer attitudes and sexual behavior. Peer acceptance of early sex predicted greater risky sexual behaviors, but only for teens whose mothers engaged in high levels of psychological control. Paternal psychological control demonstrated the same moderating effect for girls; for boys, however, high levels of paternal control predicted risky sex regardless of peer attitudes. Results are consistent with the theory that peer influences do not replace parental influences with regard to adolescent sexual behavior; rather, parental practices continue to serve an important role either directly forecasting sexual behavior or moderating the link between peer attitudes and sexual behavior.
In this study we consider whether bullies and victims are disliked by most of their classmates, or whether antipathy is concentrated among the occupants of these roles. Antipathy nominations were collected from a community sample of 699 Finnish adolescents (14 to 17 years of age), who described their own bullying and victimization, as well as problem behaviors and school engagement. Victimization was associated with antipathy, but the strength of the association differed according to characteristics of the nominator. Victimization was related to antipathy when the nominator was high on bullying but not low. Similarly, bullying was related to antipathy when the nominator was high on victimization, but not low. The findings indicate that although bullies and victims have elevated mean levels of rejection, they are not disliked by most peers but rather by those who report themselves to be high on these attributes.
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.
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.
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.
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.