This study examined genetic and environmental influences on harsh parenting of 9-month-olds. We examined whether positive child-, parent-, and family-level characteristics were associated with harsh parenting in addition to negative characteristics. We were particularly interested in examining evocative gene-environment correlation (rGE) by testing the effect of birth parent temperament on adoptive parents’ harsh parenting. Additionally, we examined associations among adoptive parents’ own temperaments, their marital relationship quality, and harsh parenting. Adoptive fathers’ (but not adoptive mothers’) harsh parenting was inversely related to an index of birth mother positive temperament (reward dependence), indicating evocative rGE. Higher marital quality was associated with less harsh parenting, but only for adoptive fathers. Adoptive parents’ negative temperamental characteristics (harm avoidance) were related to hostile parenting. Findings suggest the importance of enhancing positive family characteristics in addition to mitigating negative characteristics, as well as engaging multiple levels of the family system to prevent harsh parenting.
The current study explores the intersection of ethnic identity development and significance in a sample of 354 diverse adolescents (mean age 14). Adolescents completed surveys 5 times a day for 1 week. Cluster analyses revealed 4 identity clusters: diffused, foreclosed, moratorium, achieved. Achieved adolescents reported the highest levels of identity salience across situations, followed by moratorium adolescents. Achieved and moratorium adolescents also reported a positive association between identity salience and private regard. For foreclosed and achieved adolescents reporting low levels of centrality, identity salience was associated with lower private regard. For foreclosed and achieved adolescents reporting high levels of centrality, identity salience was associated with higher private regard.
Chinese parents exert more control over children than do American parents. The current research examined whether this is due in part to Chinese parents' feelings of worth being more contingent on children's performance. Twice over a year, 215 mothers and children (mean age = 12.86 years) in China and the United States (European and African Americans) reported on psychologically controlling parenting. Mothers also indicated the extent to which their worth is contingent on children's performance. Psychologically controlling parenting was higher among Chinese than American mothers, particularly European (vs. African) American mothers. Chinese (vs. American) mothers' feelings of worth were more contingent on children's performance, with this contributing to their heightened psychological control relative to American mothers.
China; culture; contingent self-worth; psychological control; parenting
Disoriented, punitive, and caregiving/role-reversed attachment behaviors are associated with psychopathology in childhood but have not been assessed in adolescence. One hundred twenty low-income late adolescents (aged 18 – 23) and parents were assessed in a conflict-resolution paradigm. Their interactions were coded with the Goal-Corrected Partnership in Adolescence Coding Scales. Confirmatory factor analysis demonstrated that the three disorganized constructs (punitive, care-giving, and disoriented interaction) were best represented as distinct factors and were separable from a fourth factor for collaboration. The four factors were then assessed in relation to measures of attachment disorganization, partner abuse, and psychopathology. Results indicate that forms of disorganized behavior first described in early childhood can also be reliably assessed in adolescence and are associated with maladaptive outcomes across multiple domains.
Two prospective studies examined a theoretical model wherein exposure to victimization, resulting from early behavioral risk, heightens children’s social alienation and subsequent deviant peer affiliation (DPA). Across Study 1 (298 girls, 287 boys; K – 7th grade; 5 – 12 years) and Study 2 (338 girls, 298 boys; 2nd – 6th grade; 7 – 11 years), children, parents, peers, and teachers reported on children’s externalizing behavior and internalizing symptoms, peer victimization, social alienation, and DPA. Path analyses supported the proposed pathway: Peer victimization predicted social alienation, which then predicted DPA. Early externalizing behavior set this path in motion and made an independent contribution to DPA. This research identifies an important pathway through which externalizing behavior and consequent peer victimization launch children onto a risky social trajectory.
One year after participating in the REDI (Research-based, Developmentally-Informed) intervention or “usual practice” Head Start, the learning and behavioral outcomes of 356 children (17% Hispanic, 25% African American, 54% girls; mean age 4.59 years at initial assessment) were assessed. In addition, their 202 kindergarten classrooms were evaluated on quality of teacher-student interactions, emphasis on reading instruction, and school-level student achievement. Hierarchical linear analyses revealed that the REDI intervention promoted kindergarten phonemic decoding skills, learning engagement, and competent social problem-solving skills, and reduced aggressive-disruptive behavior. Intervention effects on social competence and inattention were moderated by kindergarten context, with effects strongest when children entered schools with low student achievement. Implications are discussed for developmental models of school readiness and early educational programs.
This study tested whether the mediational pathway involving interparental conflict, adolescent emotional insecurity, and their psychological problems was altered by their earlier childhood histories of insecurity. Participants included 230 families, with the first of the five measurement occasions occurring when children were in first grade (Mean age = 7 years). Results indicated that interparental conflict was associated with increases in adolescent emotional insecurity which, in turn, predicted subsequent increases in their psychological problems. Childhood insecurity predicted adolescent maladjustment five years later even after considering contemporaneous family experiences. Moderator findings revealed that adolescents with relatively higher levels of insecurity in childhood evidenced disproportionately greater and reduced levels of insecurity in the context of high and low levels of interparental conflict, respectively.
Preschool children can navigate by simple geometric maps of the environment, but the nature of the geometric relations they use in map reading remains unclear. Here, children were tested specifically on their sensitivity to angle. Forty-eight children (age 47:15–53:30 months) were presented with fragments of geometric maps, in which angle sections appeared without any relevant length or distance information. Children were able to read these map fragments and compare 2D to 3D angles. However, this ability appeared both variable and fragile among the youngest children of the sample. These findings suggest that 4-year-old children begin to form an abstract concept of angle that applies both to 2D and 3D displays and that serves to interpret novel spatial symbols.
geometry; map reading; spatial cognition; cognitive development; preschool children
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.
Gender intensification, an increased pressure for adolescents to conform to culturally sanctioned gender roles, has been posited as an explanation for the emergence of the gender difference in depression. This longitudinal study assessed whether individuals became more stereotypical in their gender-role identity across adolescence, and whether such patterns predicted depressive symptoms. Girls reported higher femininity than boys at ages 11, 13, and 15, but girls and boys did not differ in masculinity. Contrary to prevailing views, there was not evidence of intensification in femininity or masculinity. Positive trajectories in masculinity for both girls and boys predicted fewer depressive symptoms, particularly at moderate levels of stress. Findings suggest a need to reconceptualize gender intensification in ways that characterize contemporary adolescence.
The present study examined the development of friendship conceptions from 4 to 7 years of age. Subjects were administered an open-ended interview, a picture recognition task, and a forced-choice rating task in which they identified the most important characteristics of friendship. Common activities, affection, support, and propinquity were all found to be salient aspects of most children’s conceptions. Friendship expectations concerning affection and support increased m frequency with age, while references to physical characteristics decreased. In general, parallel findings were found on the 3 measures, although the results were not as strong on the open-ended interview. The findings suggest that children first learn the overt characteristics of the occupants of the role of friend, but as they grow older they place increasing emphasis on affectively based characteristics.
Luthar, Suniya S. Social Competence in the School Setting: Prospective Cross-Domain Associations among Inner-City Teens. Child Development, 1995, 66, 416–429. In this 6-month prospective study of 138 ninth-grade inner-city students, associations among different aspects of school-based social competence were examined. In addition, links between initial emotional adjustment and subsequent social competence at school were explored. Aspects of social competence examined included academic achievement, peer reputation, and teacher-rated classroom behaviors. Emotional adjustment was measured based on self-reported internalizing and externalizing symptoms. Consonant with views positing continuity and coherence of development, high temporal consistency was found within each social competence domain. In addition, superior adjustment in one domain was sometimes associated with subsequent improvements in other spheres as well. Exceptions found to this pattern were that (a) both as an antecedent and as a consequent variable, peer-rated sociability was negatively linked with other indices of school-based functioning, and (b) among girls, high anxiety was related to improved performance at school over the year. Ecological influences in adolescent adjustment are discussed, and implications of the findings for future research are explored.
Factors that allow children to maintain socially competent behaviors despite stress were examined among 144 inner-city ninth-grade students with a mean age of 15.3 years. Stress was operationalized by scores on a negative life events scale, and definitions of social competence were based on peer ratings, teacher ratings, and school grades. Moderator variables examined included intelligence, internal locus of control, social skills, ego development, and positive life events. Following theoretical models by Garmezy and Rutter, distinctions were made between compensatory factors (which are directly related to competence) and protective/vulnerability factors (which interact with stress in influencing competence). Ego development was found to be compensatory against stress. Internality and social skills proved to be protective factors, while intelligence and positive events were involved in vulnerability processes. This study also revealed that children labeled as resilient were significantly more depressed and anxious than were competent children from low stress backgrounds.
Head Start is the largest federally funded preschool program for disadvantaged children. Research has shown relatively small impacts on cognitive and social skills; therefore some have questioned its effectiveness. Using data from the Head Start Impact Study (3-year-old cohort; N = 2,449), we used latent class analysis to (1) identify subgroups of children defined by baseline characteristics of their home environment and caregiver and (2) test whether the effects of Head Start on cognitive, and behavioral and relationship skills over two years differed across subgroups. The results suggest that the effectiveness of Head Start varies quite substantially. For some children there appears to be a significant, and in some cases, long-term, positive impact. For others there is little to no effect.
Disrupted sensory processing, characterized by over- or underresponsiveness to environmental stimuli, has been reported in children with a variety of developmental disabilities. This study examined the effects of prenatal stress and moderate-level prenatal alcohol exposure on tactile sensitivity and its relationship to striatal dopamine system function in thirty-eight 5- to 7-year-old rhesus monkeys. The monkeys were from four experimental conditions: (a) prenatal alcohol exposed, (b) prenatal stress, (c) prenatal alcohol exposed + prenatal stress, and (d) sucrose controls. Increased D2 receptor binding in the striatum, evaluated using positron emission tomography neuroimaging, was related to increased withdrawal (aversion) responses to repetitive tactile stimuli and reduced habituation across trials. Moreover, prenatal stress significantly increased overall withdrawal responses to repetitive tactile stimulation compared to no prenatal stress.
This study investigated the changing relation between emotion and inhibitory control during adolescence. One hundred participants between 11 and 25 years of age performed a go-nogo task in which task-relevant stimuli (letters) were presented at the center of large task-irrelevant images depicting negative, positive, or neutral scenes selected from the International Affective Picture System. Longer reaction times for negative trials were found across all age groups, suggesting that negative but not positive emotional images captured attention across this age range. However, age differences in accuracy on inhibitory trials suggest that response inhibition is more readily disrupted by negative emotional distraction in early adolescence relative to late childhood, late adolescence or early adulthood.
The present study compared 5- and 10-year-old North American and Israeli children's beliefs about the objectivity of different categories. Children saw picture-triads composed of two exemplars of the same category (e.g., two women), and an exemplar of a contrasting category (e.g., a man). Children were asked whether it would be acceptable or wrong for people in a different country to consider contrasting exemplars to be the same kind. We found that children from both countries viewed gender as objectively correct and occupation as flexible. The findings regarding race and ethnicity differed in the two countries, revealing how an essentialist bias interacts with cultural input in directing children's conceptualization of social groups.
Relations between marital conflict, children’s respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), and fluid cognitive performance were examined over three years to assess allostatic processes. Participants were 251 children reporting on marital conflict, baseline RSA and RSA reactivity to a lab challenge were recorded, and fluid cognitive performance was measured using the Woodcock-Johnson III. A cross-lagged model showed that higher levels of marital conflict at age 8 predicted weaker RSA-R at age 9 for children with lower baseline RSA. A growth model showed that lower baseline RSA in conjunction with weaker RSA-R predicted the slowest development of fluid cognitive performance. Findings suggest that stress may affect development of physiological systems regulating attention, which are tied to the development of fluid cognitive performance.
Marital Conflict; Cognitive Performance; Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia; Physiological Reactivity; Allostatic Load
In this study, 6-month-old infants’ visual working memory (VWM) for a static feature (color) and a dynamic feature (rotational motion) was compared. Comparing infants’ use of different features can only be done properly if experimental manipulations to those features are equally salient (Kaldy, Blaser, & Leslie, 2006; Kaldy & Blaser, 2009). The Interdimensional Salience Mapping method was used to find two objects that each were one Just Salient Difference (JSD) from a common baseline object (N=16). These calibrated stimuli were then used in a subsequent two-alternative forced-choice (2AFC) preferential looking memory test (N=28). Results showed that infants noted the color change, but not the equally salient change in rotation speed.
salience; infant; JSD; ISM; color; speed; visual memory
This research examined the reciprocal pathways between youth's sense of responsibility to parents and disclosure to them during early adolescence in the United States and China. Four times over the seventh and eighth grades, 825 American and Chinese youth (mean age = 12.73 years) reported on their sense of responsibility to parents and disclosure of everyday activities to them. Auto-regressive Latent Trajectory (ALT) models revealed that the more youth felt responsible to parents, the more they subsequently disclosed to them in both the United States and China. The reverse was also true: The more youth disclosed to parents, the more responsible they felt to them over time. The strength of these reciprocal pathways increased as youth progressed through early adolescence.
Culture; disclosure; parent-child relationships; sense of responsibility
Building on longitudinal findings of linkages between aspects of
teachers’ language during instruction and children’s use of
mnemonic strategies, this investigation was designed to examine experimentally
the impact of instruction on memory development. First and second graders (N=54,
mean age=7 years) were randomly assigned to a science unit that varied only in
teachers’ use of memory-relevant language. Pretest, posttest, and 1-month
follow-up assessments revealed that although all participating children learned
new information as a result of instruction, those exposed to memory-rich
teaching exhibited greater levels of strategic knowledge and engaged in more
sophisticated strategy use in a memory task involving instructional content than
did students exposed to low-memory instruction. The findings provide support for
a causal linkage between teachers’ language and children’s
teachers’ memory-relevant instruction; memory development; strategy use; knowledge
The early noncry vocalizations of infants are salient social signals. Caregivers spontaneously respond to 30-50% of these sounds, and their responsiveness to infants' prelinguistic noncry vocalizations facilitates the development of phonology and speech. Have infants learned that their vocalizations influence the behavior of social partners? If infants have learned the contingency between their vocalizing and the social responses of others, they should show an extinction burst when the contingency is removed, increasing their rate of noncry vocalizing then decreasing. Thirty-eight 5-month-olds were tested in the still-face paradigm, during which they engaged in a 2-min still-face interaction with an unfamiliar adult. When the adult assumed a still face, infants showed an extinction burst. This pattern of infant vocalizations suggests that 5-month-olds have learned the social efficacy of their vocalizations on caregivers' behavior. Furthermore, the magnitude of 5-month infants' extinction bursts predicted their language comprehension at 13 months.
Cognitive deficits have been reported in children who experienced early neglect, especially children raised in institutionalized settings. Previous research suggests early neglect may differentially affect the directional organization of white matter in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). This may be one mechanism to explain cognitive deficits associated with neglect. To test this idea, properties of white matter and neurocognitive performance was assessed in children who suffered early neglect and those raised in typical environments (n=63, Mean Age=11.75 years). As predicted, prefrontal white matter microstructure was affected, consistent with more diffuse organization, in children that suffered early neglect and this was related to neurocognitive deficits. Such findings underscore how early adversity may affect the PFC and explain cognitive deficits associated with neglect.
stress; prefrontal cortex; brain development; early neglect; maltreatment; neuroimaging; frontal lobe; cognitive development; cognitive neuroscience; critical period; sensitive period; chronic stress; executive functioning; neural plasticity
The present study examined the developmental trajectories of maladaptive perfectionism over a seven-year period among African American youth living in an urban setting (N=547). In particular, the study attempted to determine whether two maladaptive aspects of perfectionism (socially-prescribed and self-critical) changed over time and could be distinguished by variables in 6th and 12th grade (mean age at study entry (first grade) was 6.22 years (SD = 0.34)). Four classes best described the developmental trajectories on both measures of maladaptive perfectionism: high; low; increasing; and decreasing. Sixth and twelfth grade correlates, including measures of internalizing symptoms mostly confirmed the distinctiveness of these classes. Parallel process analyses suggested that the two processes are complementary, yet distinct. Implications regarding the prevention of maladaptive perfectionism are discussed.
adolescents; African American; maladaptive; perfectionism
This paper reports the maintenance of one of the largest interventions conducted in St. Petersburg (Russian Federation) orphanages for children birth to 4 years using regular caregiving staff. One orphanage received training plus structural changes, another training only, and a third business as usual. The intervention produced substantial differences between these institutions on the HOME Inventory and on the Battelle Developmental Inventory scores for children. These institutional differences in HOME scores (N=298) and Battelle scores for children (N=357) departing the institutions for families in St. Petersburg and the USA were maintained for at least six years after the intervention project, result may be associated with to certain features of the intervention and activities during the follow-up interval.