Emerging Scholar Spotlight

Each month, the emerging scholar spotlight presents a recent publication, authored by an EARA Young Scholar, appeared in an intentional journal. The best way to know how our vibrant community of young scholars is contributing to the study of adolescence!

  • JULY - AUGUST 2020

    Environmental factors and daily functioning levels among adolescents with executive function deficits

    Yael Fogel, Department of Occupational Therapy Ariel University, Israel
    Sara Rosenblum, Department of Occupational Therapy University of Haifa, Israel
    Naomi Josman, Department of Occupational Therapy University of Haifa, Israel

    Background

    Adolescents with executive function deficits (EFD) often struggle to organize and self-regulate their daily functioning and participate in different environments, which can lead to long-lasting cognitive, academic and social difficulties. Their parents report significantly fewer environmental supports and more environmental barriers to their children’s participation than do parents of adolescents without EFD. Despite recent interest in these environmental factors, little research has examined their impact on participation with a focus on specific factors, different settings, or diverse populations in terms of age or difficulties. This study aimed to determine and analyse environmental characteristics that might affect adolescents with or without EFD, as perceived by their parents.

    Method

    Forty-one parents of adolescents (10–14 years) with EFD and 40 parents of a matched group without EFD completed the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, the Participation and Environment Measure for Children and Youth (PEM-CY) Part B and the Child Evaluation Checklist (CHECK). Correlation and discriminate analyses were used to compare environmental factors (PEM-CY) across groups and identify those that predict daily functioning (CHECK).

    Results

    Based on discriminant function analysis, 91.4% of participants were correctly classified into their respective groups (90.2% of participants with EFD and 92.5% without EFD).

    Significant between-group differences were found for most environmental factors, illustrating that parents of adolescents with EFD generally perceive environmental factors as more obstructive than do parents of adolescents without EFD. For example, in home-, school- and community-environment activities respectively, 70.7%, 82.9% and 56.1% of parents of adolescents in the group with EFD rated the activities’ cognitive demands as limiting their children’s participation versus 7.5%, 12.5% and 2.5% of parents of adolescents without EFD.  

    Additionally, significant negative correlations were found between school-environment activities’ social demands and the CHECK-A (r = -.48, p = .001) and CHECK-B (r = -.52, = .001), and between community-environment activities’ social demands and the CHECK-A (r = -.57, p < .001) and CHECK-B (r = -.32, p < .04). The community-environment activities’ social demands predicted 32% of the variance in the CHECK-A (R= .30, p < .001) and 6% of the variance in school-environment activities’ social demands (R= .35, p < .05). The school-environment social demands predicted 27% of the variance in the CHECK-B (R= .25, p = .001).

    Conclusion

    The tension between environmental demands and personal competencies and strengths can challenge adolescents with EFD. Analysing the supporting and inhibiting environmental factors is an inseparable part of the occupational therapy treatment for adolescents with EFD to improve their daily functions. Environmental requirements and societal expectations only increase with age; ultimately, adolescents must deal with them effectively and independently. The results of the study reinforce the need to help adolescents practice socially demanding occupations in a supported context, make adaptations, and facilitate the activity’s social demands to improve daily functioning in the school and community environments for adolescents with EFD.

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  • JUNE 2020

    Explaining Trajectories of Adolescent Drunkenness, Drug Use, and Criminality: A Latent Transition Analysis with Socio-Ecological Covariates

    Russell Turner, Department of Social Work, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
    Kristian Daneback, Department of Social Work, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
    Anette Skårner, Department of Social Work, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

    Background

    Although there are different trajectories in the early development of substance use and criminality, it is less clear why some adolescents follow one pathway and not another. Few studies have probed how drunkenness, drug use, and criminal behaviour cluster and change within individuals during development. Further, little is known about the relative importance of different socio-ecological domains in explaining differential development. This study examined how four domains in adolescents’ socio-ecology – temperament, peer behaviours, family climate, and relative SES – were linked to different trajectories and whether some domains were more strongly associated with specific patterns of these behaviours.

    Method

    Data comes from the Longitudinal Research on Development in Adolescence (LoRDIA) study in Sweden. Adolescents were surveyed annually over a 3-year period from age 13-15 (n = 755). The sample was selected based on having two or more completed questionnaires. This gave 93% participation at age 13, and 89% and 91% participation respectively at follow-up. Latent transition analysis and multinomial logistic regression were conducted.

    Results

    Four latent statuses were found, showing heterogeneity in adolescent substance use and criminal behaviours. The “Abstainers” (80% of the sample) had a low probability of engaging in any of the three behaviours. The “Occasional law-breakers” (9.4%) had a high probability of committing crime on an infrequent basis, but did not engage in the other two behaviours. The “Dabblers” (9%) partook in the three behaviours in a casual and/or occasional manner, e.g. this group had a 46% probability of frequent drunkenness, alongside much lower probabilities of drug use, and a 45% probability of infrequent crime. The “Regular-All” (1.6%) had high probabilities of engaging in all three behaviours on a regular basis.

    These statuses were however highly stable. Individual, peer and family domains were all relevant in distinguishing between the statuses. A key finding was that the relative importance of these domains differed between the statuses, suggesting differential effects of the domains on the different trajectories. A negative pre-teen family environment, as well as higher proportions of criminal peers, was most strongly associated with the more entrenched Regular-All group. This was not the case for the Dabblers group, who had marginally higher levels of novelty-seeking. For the Occasional Law Breakers, the strongest explanatory factors were higher levels of criminal peers.

    Conclusion

    Adolescents’ early engagement in drunkenness, drug use, and criminal behaviour follows diverse, but fairly stable pathways. Moreover, the differential development of these behaviours has different combinations of explanatory socio-ecological factors. Developmental theories may need to account more closely for the differential development of these behaviours in relation to different socio-ecological contexts.

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  • MAY 2020

    Social Withdrawal in Adolescence and Early Adulthood: Measurement Issues, Normative Development, and Distinct Trajectories

    Stefania A. Barzeva, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
    Wim H. J. Meeus, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Albertine J. Oldehinkel, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

    Background

    Social withdrawal during adolescence and early adulthood is particularly problematic because social interactions and friendships become increasingly important for well-being during these ages. Yet little is known about the normative development, distinct trajectories, or correlates of being withdrawn beyond childhood. This study examined the longitudinal patterns of withdrawal while considering measurement issues pertinent to developmental research.

    Method

    Participants were from a Dutch population-based cohort study, Tracking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (www.trails.nl), including 1,917 adolescents who were assessed at four waves, from the age of 16 to 25 years. Social withdrawal was measured by five items from the Youth Self-Report at the first wave and the same items from the Adult Self-Report at all subsequent waves. Adolescents also reported on their anxiety and antisocial behaviors, and parents reported on adolescents’ shyness, social affiliation, and reduced social contact.

    Longitudinal measurement invariance of the social withdrawal construct was examined by increasingly constrained Confirmatory Factor Analysis models. Measurement invariance indicates if participants interpreted withdrawal items consistently over time. A multiple-indicator Latent Growth Curve Model assessed the mean-level change in withdrawal across all participants. Latent Class Growth Analysis was used to determine the number and shape of the distinct withdrawal trajectory classes. Once classes were determined, they were compared on the withdrawal-related variables.

    The analytic plans were pre-registered, and all scripts and outputs can be accessed on the Open Science Framework (osf.io/vef8s).

    Results

    Partial scalar measurement invariance was found for the social withdrawal items, meaning that adolescents generally interpreted items consistently over time. On average, social withdrawal followed a curvilinear pattern: withdrawal decreased between 16 and 19 years, was low between 19 and 22 years, and increased between 22 and 25 years. Three trajectories of social withdrawal emerged. Most adolescents (71.8%) were not socially withdrawn at any age; 16.2% were somewhat socially withdrawn around 16 years, but not withdrawn thereafter; and 12% were persistently withdrawn.

    Adolescents who were persistently withdrawn had the highest anxiety, shyness, and reduced social contact, and the lowest affiliation, indicating that adolescents in this group were the most maladjusted. There were no strong and consistent differences between classes on antisocial behaviors.

    Conclusion

    The normative pattern of social withdrawal in adolescence and early adulthood follows a U-shaped curve, with the lowest levels during late adolescence, and individuals follow one of three withdrawal trajectories. Although most maintained low levels of social withdrawal throughout adolescence and early adulthood, 12% were persistently withdrawn. These results indicate that social withdrawal continues to be a developmentally relevant behavior after childhood, impacting the lives of adolescents and young adults.

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  • APRIL 2020

    Gender Differences in Loneliness Across the Lifespan: A Meta-Analysis

    Marlies Maes, KU Leuven, Research Foundation Flanders, Belgium
    Pamela Qualter, University of Manchester, UK
    Janne Vanhalst, Ghent University, Belgium
    Wim van den Noortgate, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Luc Goossens, KU Leuven, Belgium

    Background

    Loneliness, which is the unpleasant feeling that occurs when people perceive their network of social relationships to be deficient in quantitative or qualitative ways, has been related to a broad range of mental and physical health problems. Many studies have examined whether gender represents a vulnerability factor for loneliness, but results have been largely inconsistent, and no consensus has been reached. Therefore, we aimed to synthesize the available evidence on gender differences in loneliness. In addition to examining that global effect, we investigated the moderating effects of participants’ age, types of loneliness, the country in which the study was conducted, the socioeconomic, ethnic, and clinical status of the participants, the geographical representation of the sample, and the year in which the study was published.

    Method

    A systematic literature was conducted and revealed, after applying the selection criteria, 751 effect sizes from 638 studies. A total of 399,798 individuals were included in the present meta-analysis (45.56% male). Several studies reported on multiple effect sizes, so to account for possible dependency among effect sizes, we conducted multilevel meta-analysis. Specifically, we conducted a cross-classified three-level model with random sampling variance (Level 1) and within-study variance (Level 2). At Level 3, we considered two sources of random variation, that is, between-study variance and between-instrument variance. Analyses were conducted with the metafor package (Version 1.9–9) in R. At the Open Science Framework, both the dataset (https://osf.io/tqmeh/) and analysis scripts (https://osf.io/37u8s/) are available.

    Results

    First, when focusing on the 544 effects for which sufficient information was available to calculate a standardized mean difference, we found a close-to-zero mean effect of g = 0.08 (SE = 0.03, p = .005, 95% CI [0.02, 0.13]), suggesting that males are slightly lonelier than females. Second, when the analysis was based on all 751 effects and, thus, also included the effects for which we had to make assumptions (e.g., assuming equal sample sizes when only a total sample size was provided), we obtained a similar effect of g = 0.07 (SE = 0.02, p = .003, and 95% CI [0.03, 0.12]). Third, we focused on the effect sizes derived from the larger samples with a minimum of 100 male and 100 female participants. This analysis, based on 376 effects, yielded a non-significant mean effect size of g = 0.04 (SE = 0.02, p = .078 and 95% CI [-0.01, 0.09]). Most moderators did not significantly predict gender differences in loneliness, except for age group, sampling area, and year of publication. All effects, however, were small.

    Conclusion

    We found very similar mean levels of loneliness for males and females, from childhood through old age, for different types of loneliness, and across a range of demographic background variables, suggesting that males and females are more alike than they are different on self-reported loneliness.

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  • MARCH 2020

    What Alters the Experience of Emerging Adulthood? How the Experience of Emerging Adulthood Differs According to Socioeconomic Status and Critical Life Events

    Monique Landberg, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany
    Bora Lee, Korea University, Seoul, Korea
    Peter Noack, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany

    Background

    The proposed new stage of Emerging adulthood (EA) has evoked debates both in the academic world and in the media, mainly focusing on whether or not EA qualifies as a distinct developmental stage. Many also question whether it is a truly universal phenomenon as opposed to one only found among a restricted group of White, middle-class, and well- educated young people between 18 and 30 years of age. Regardless of these arguments, the proposed concept of EA has garnered a lot of attention among both researchers and the general public. Our study aimed to shed light on one of the main criticisms of EA, namely, that young people from lower socioeconomic classes do not have the option to explore and experience various alternatives. Hence, we examined the relationship between socioeconomic status and the experience of EA and critical life events (CLEs).

    Method

    Our first study was based on data collected as part of a four-wave longitudinal study examining how young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 balance and master their life goals. Our variables of interest were measured during the first two waves of the original study. At T1, there were slightly more women than men in the sample (women: n = 1,923, 58.8%). The emerging adults were on average 23.61 years old (SD = 2.94). University students were the largest subgroup (54.9%), followed by employed young adults (19.5%), those in an apprenticeship (14.1%), unemployed (4.3%), and those who were doing something else (2.6%).

    SES was measured based on the International Socio-Economic Index (ISEI) of occupational status. Additionally, we applied the Inventory of the Dimensions of Emerging Adulthood (IDEA) at T2 and measured CLEs during the 12 months preceding T2.

    For study 2, twelve semi-structured interviews with Emerging adults in extra-vocational training were analyzed using thematic analysis to better understand the associations among SES, EA, and CLEs.

    Results

    In Study 1, lower SES was associated with negativity/instability, other-focus, and possibilities. Furthermore, the association between SES and the perception of EA was mediated by CLEs for negativity. These findings support the argument that some aspects of the perception of EA are indeed associated with SES.

    The results of our interview study indicated that low-SES youth experienced many CLEs, as well as some typical features of EA, such as optimism and self-focus.

    Conclusion

    Although many scholars have argued that the concept of EA only applies to a specific population (e.g., college students), we found evidence that even disadvantaged young adults experience key elements of EA, supporting the assertion that EA is a universal life stage that is not restricted to a certain group. However, some aspects of the perception of EA are indeed associated with SES. Low-SES youth perceived their life circumstances to be unstable, felt more committed to others, and had more responsibilities for other people. Although typical features of EA were clearly evident in our interviews with disadvantaged youth, these features seemed to reflect their different life circumstances.

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  • FEBRUARY 2020

    Personality Traits as Predictors of Early Alcohol Inebriation Among Young Adolescents: Mediating Effects by Mental Health and Gender-Specific Patterns

    Karin Boson, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
    Peter Wennberg, Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden
    Claudia Fahlke, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
    Kristina Berglund, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

    Background

    Estimating individual risk factors for alcohol inebriation can provide important information and guidance for practitioners and organizations in identifying young adolescents at higher risk of dysfunctional development regarding alcohol problems and mental health problems. Personality is an important predictor for inebriation; however, the interacting effects of internalizing and externalizing problems, low well-being and gender on the relation of personality and inebriation is still not investigated among young adolescents. Hence, the aim of this study was to predict alcohol inebriation in early adolescence by a biopsychosocial model of personality traits (i.e. temperament and character dimensions). The mediation of mental health factors, such as, co-occurring internalizing and externalizing problems plus well-being and potential gender-specific patterns among young adolescents were also investigated.

    Method

    Self-reported data from a general population of 853 adolescents (56 % girls) in Sweden, aged 13-15 years, from the Longitudinal Research on Development In Adolescence (LoRDIA) program were used. The Swedish self-report version of the Junior Temperament and Character Inventory (JTCI) was used to assess the child’s personality and the Swedish self-report version of The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ-S) mapped emotional and behavioral problems. Predictions from temperament and character dimensions to alcohol inebriation and the mediating effects of mental health were estimated by means of logistic regression and generalized structural equation modelling (SEM). Separated gender analyses were performed throughout the study to reveal potential gender-specific patterns.

    Results

    Externalizing mental health problems, the temperament dimension Novelty Seeking and the character dimension Cooperativeness had all independent effects on alcohol inebriation for both genders. In addition, the temperamentent Harm Avoidance among girls and Internalizing mental health problems among boys also showed indepentent effects. Novelty Seeking also had an indirect effect through externalizing problems, as well as the character dimension Self-Directedness. Harm Avoidance and Self-Directedness had indirect negative effects through internalizing problems only for boys.

    Conclusion

    The combination of an immature character (low Self-directedness and low Cooperativeness) with an extreme temperament profile (high Novelty Seeking and low Harm Avoidance) was a predictor of inebriation across gender, both directly and indirectly through mental health. One should especially encourage the development of character dimensions as they are both positively associated to good mental health and negatively linked to norm-breaking behavior such as early inebriation over time. This study contributes with valuable information about gender-specific considerations when developing and conducting preventative interventions targeting psychological risk and resilience factors for early alcohol inebriation among young adolescents.

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  • JANUARY 2020

    Parent–Adolescent Conflict Across Adolescence: Trajectories of Informant Discrepancies and Associations with Personality Types

    Stefanos Mastrotheodoros, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
    Jolien Van der Graaff, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
    Maja Deković, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
    Wim Meeus, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
    Susan Branje, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

    Background

    Parent-adolescent conflict can be intense, but parents and adolescents do not always agree on the intensity of conflict. Conflict intensity tends to change during adolescence and this change is thought to be an indicator of how the parent-adolescent relationship transforms. However, parents and adolescents might differently perceive change in conflict intensity, resulting in informant discrepancies in conflict intensity. Such informant discrepancies may develop across adolescence, as the parent-adolescent relationship is restructured. Also, personality characteristics of parents and adolescents might affect the development of parent-adolescent conflict intensity, as well as the extent to which there are discrepancies in perceptions of conflict intensity. This multi-informant longitudinal study investigated a) the trajectories of parent-adolescent conflict intensity, b) the trajectories of informant discrepancies, and c) the prediction of these trajectories by parental and adolescent personality.

    Method

    Dutch adolescents (N = 497, 43.1% female, Mage = 13.03 at T1), their mothers, and their fathers reported on parent-adolescent conflict intensity and personality for six years. Latent Growth Curve Modeling was applied to investigate the trajectories of parent-adolescent conflict intensity. Latent Congruence Modeling along with Latent Growth Curve Modeling were applied to investigate informant discrepancies, as well as the trajectories of informant discrepancies. These analyses revealed curvilinear changes in conflict intensity, as well as in the trajectories of informant discrepancies. In addition, Latent Class Growth Analyses were applied to investigate personality profiles of mothers, fathers, and adolescents. These analyses replicated the well-established three-class personality typology consisting of Resilients, Undercontrollers, and Overcontrollers. Finally, the personality types were used as predictors of the trajectories of conflict intensity, and of informant discrepancies.

    Results

    Conflict intensity was found to increase from early to middle adolescence, and remain stable from middle to late adolescence, according to adolescents’ reports for both mothers and fathers. In contrast, parental perceptions of conflict intensity remained stable from early to middle adolescence, and decreased from middle to late adolescence. Discrepancies also followed a curvilinear pattern, increasing from early to middle adolescence and then remaining stable (mother-adolescent dyads) or increasing at a lower rate (father-adolescent dyads). Most importantly, two cycles of discrepancies emerged. First, the increase in discrepancies from early to middle adolescence reflected that adolescents’ perceived conflict intensity increased, whereas parents’ perceptions remained stable. Second, from middle to late adolescence, father-adolescent discrepancies increased further, reflecting that fathers’ perceptions of conflict decreased.

    Resilient adolescents, mothers, and fathers reported lower levels of conflict intensity than Undercontrollers and Overcontrollers, but personality was not associated with the rate of change in conflict intensity. Finally, undercontrolling fathers and overcontrolling adolescents showed higher father-adolescent discrepancies.

    Conclusion

    This study showed that parents and adolescents differentially perceive conflict intensity. In addition, the increasing trajectory of informant discrepancies calls for further research to investigate whether this may be linked to negative outcomes for adolescents. Finally, in the adolescent -father relationship, the extent of the informant discrepancies depends on adolescent and father personality.

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  • DECEMBER 2019

    Prejudice and Inclusiveness in Adolescence: The Role of Multiple Categorization and Social Dominance Orientation

    Flavia Albarello, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Italy
    Elisabetta Crocetti, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Italy
    Monica Rubini, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Italy

    Background

    Migration is rendering current societies increasingly diverse. This can be seen as a resource, given that social and cultural diversity might lead to augmented tolerance towards others. Nonetheless, many Western countries have witnessed an increase in ethnocentrism and nationalism, resulting in a call to establish barriers against “foreigners” and defend own nations against migrants. Anti-immigrant prejudice is, thus, a major risk factor for the establishment of harmonious intergroup relationships in modern multicultural societies. This raises a core question: How is it possible to lessen prejudice and promote people’s attitudes towards social inclusiveness?

    Social psychological literature showed that defining outgroup members in terms of multiple categorization, by depicting them with more than four categorical dimensions, can reduce outgroup prejudice. Conversely, social dominance orientation, as an individual trait expressing support for group-based hierarchies on the basis of the belief that one’s group is superior than any other group, can heighten prejudice against disadvantaged groups such as migrants. However, it has not been shown how these two factors interact in explaining prejudice. It has also not been addressed whether they can affect individuals’ identification with the human group as a fundamental symbolic root of social inclusiveness that captures individuals’ awareness of being member of the human group, irrespectively of the differences that may characterize the large variety of social categories. In a novel way, this study examined the relations of multiple categorization and social dominance orientation with adolescents’ prejudice against migrants and identification with the human group over time.

    Method

    Participants were 304 Northern-Italian late adolescents (61.84% female, Mage = 17.49) attending the last 2 years (i.e., 11th and 12th grades) of secondary high school in the North‐East of Italy. The data were collected throughout 1academic year with an interval of 3 months between measurements. At each point, the adolescents completed the same paper‐and‐pencil questionnaire in their classrooms, during school hours. The questionnaire included measures of social dominance orientation, multiple categorization, prejudice against migrants, human identification.

    Results

    Results showed that multiple categorization was negatively linked to prejudice at a later time, whereas social dominance orientation was positively associated with it; prejudice also negatively affected multiple categorization and positively affected social dominance orientation at a later time. Moreover, prejudice mediated the effects of multiple categorization and social dominance orientation on human identification.

    Conclusion

    These findings have important implications suggesting the construens effect of multiple categorization for enhancing social inclusiveness. Besides this beneficial role of multiple categorization, the study also addressed the longitudinal association between social dominance orientation and prejudicial attitudes in late adolescence with the aim of clarifying previous inconsistent evidence about the bidirectionality of the phenomenon. A major novelty of this study regards the fact that it stands on the evidence that the path from prejudice to social dominance orientation was stronger than that from social dominance orientation to prejudice. Overall, these effects highlighted a “dark chain” in which prejudice affects the extent to which late adolescents endorse social dominance, showing that prejudice can work as a legitimizing myth of social inequalities.

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  • NOVEMBER 2019

    Sensation Seeking’s Differential Role in Face-to-Face and Cyberbullying: Taking Perceived Contextual Properties Into Account

    Daniel Graf, University of Vienna, Austria
    Takuya Yanagida, University of Vienna, Austria
    Christiane Spiel, University of Vienna, Austria

    Background

    Several studies have demonstrated the link between sensation seeking and bullying. In contrast, few studies have investigated the associations between sensation seeking and offline- and cyberbullying simultaneously. Thus, contextual differences between offline and online environments were neglected. In addition, the few existing studies operationalized sensation seeking with items partly referring to antisocial behavior, which could have led to tautological findings. The aim of the present study was to overcome these limitations by operationalizing sensation seeking as a motivational disposition, rather than concrete (antisocial) behaviors, encompassing the dimensions ‘need for stimulation’ and ‘avoidance of rest’. Furthermore, we took student’s perceptions of selected contextual properties into account that might be relevant for the associations between both dimensions of sensation seeking and bullying in both contexts.

    Method

    A total of 523 students (37.4% girls; Mage = 17.83 years; SD = 2.13; age range 15–28 years) from 32 school classes answered online questionnaires on offline- and cyberbullying involvement, perceived contextual properties, and the two dimensions of sensation seeking during regular school hours.

    Results

    Structural Equation Modeling revealed differential relationships between the dimensions of sensation seeking and bullying in both contexts. Namely, need for stimulation was positively associated with offline- and with cyberbullying, whereas avoidance of rest was positively related to cyberbullying only. The differences in all regression slopes were statistically significant, indicating that the positive associations between both dimensions of sensation seeking were stronger for cyber- than for offline bullying. Dependent t-tests revealed differences in students’ perceptions of contextual properties between offline and online contexts. Nevertheless, no relationships between either dimension of sensation seeking and either form of bullying were moderated by any perceived contextual property.

    Conclusion

    Our study indicates that sensation seeking is a stronger risk factor for cyberbullying compared to offline-bullying. The unique relationship between avoidance of rest and cyberbullying could be explained by findings suggesting a relationship between boredom and aggressive behavior. Following the assumption that communication in cyberspace may take place in less stimulating environments compared to offline communication, future research should take the role of different boredom types into account to deepen the understanding of this differential association. Moreover, our findings provide empirical evidence for mostly theoretically assumed differences between offline and computer-mediated communication by examining student’s actual perceptions. The fact that no perceived contextual property moderated the investigated relationships suggests that future studies should take a more holistic approach. Overall, our study provides useful insights into the role of an intrapersonal risk factor for offline- and cyberbullying. By demonstrating differential relationships between the dimensions of sensation seeking and bullying in both contexts, this study adds to the current literature discussing similarities and differences between offline and cyberbullying.

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  • OCTOBER 2019

    Family Functioning and Adolescent Internalizing and Externalizing Problems: Disentangling Between-, and Within-family Associations

    Stefanos Mastrotheodoros, Utrecht University, the Netherlands / University of Athens, Greece
    Catarina Canário, University of Porto, Portugal
    Maria Cristina Gugliandolo, University of Cassino and South Latium, Italy
    Marina Merkas, Catholic University of Croatia, Croatia
    Loes Keijsers, Tilburg University, the Netherlands

    Background

    Adolescence is often a period of onset for internalizing and externalizing problems. At the same time, adolescent maturation and increasing autonomy from parents push for changes in family functioning. Theoretically, changes in family functioning are linked with changes in adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems; these links are located in the within-family level. This means that regardless whether a family has generally high or generally low functioning, improvements in a family’s functioning should be accompanied by improvements in adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems in this family. However, extant studies examining these links often failed to focus on such within-family fluctuations, because they did not take into account the stable between-family differences among families. This longitudinal, pre-registered, and open-science study aimed at examining the empirical support for the expected within-family links among family functioning, and internalizing and externalizing problems, by applying novel analytic techniques that explicitly disaggregate the between-family variance, from the within-family variance.

    Method

    Greek adolescents (N = 480, Mage = 15.73, 47.9% girls, at Wave 1) completed self-report questionnaires, three times in 12 months. Nine bivariate Random-Intercept Cross-Lagged Panel Models (RI-CLPM) were applied examining the dynamic within-family associations among three dimensions of family functioning (flexibility, cohesion, communication) and three dimensions of internalizing and externalizing problems (symptoms of depression, anxiety, and anger). Explicitly disentangling between-family differences from within-family processes, these models offer a more stringent examination of within-family hypotheses. In addition, models with alternative specification to that of the RI-CLPMs were applied.

    Results

    Family functioning was not significantly associated with internalizing or externalizing problems, on the within-family level. Significant negative associations emerged on the between-family level. Also, alternative standard Cross-Lagged Panel Models (CLPM) were applied; such models have been recently criticized for failing to explicitly disentangle between-family variance from within-family variance, but they have been the standard approach to investigating questions of temporal ordering. These models showed that those adolescents who reported higher symptoms of depression at Wave 1 and Wave 2, compared to their peers, also reported lower family flexibility, cohesion, and communication six months later, but not vice versa. In addition, adolescents with higher anxiety and anger had lower  family cohesion six months later.

    Conclusion

    Results from these analyses offered evidence that adolescents with higher internalizing and externalizing problems compared to their peers, tended to be those who later experienced worse family functioning, but not vice versa. However, the theoretically expected links on the within-family level were not supported. Therefore, the current theoretical models of family functioning might work well as static descriptions of differences between families, but fail to explicate how fluctuations in family functioning and/or internalizing and externalizing problems might dynamically affect each other during adolescence. Thus, this study calls for theoretical refinement regarding how family functioning is associated with adolescent adaptation.

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  • SEPTEMBER 2019

    Perceived Parental Guan and School Adjustment Among Chinese Early Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Interdependent Self-Construal

    Xiaoyu Lan, University of Padova, Italy
    Sara Scrimin, University of Padova, Italy
    Ughetta Moscardino, University of Padova, Italy

    Background

    In the past decades, China has experienced a rapid economic growth which resulted in benefits and increased wealth for its population. Yet, these changes also raised pressure and competition, especially among the young generations. Previous research suggests that supportive parenting is positively related to adolescents’ academic and psychological functioning. However, most extant research has focused on parenting styles observed in Western countries, whereas less is known about the role of culturally specific parenting dimensions in Eastern countries such as China. Despite the relevance of both parenting styles and the self for early adolescents’ developmental outcomes, little is known about how these factors may explain school adjustment among students in Mainland China. In addition, knowledge about the differential role of mothers and fathers in this association is scarce. The present study aimed to extend current research by investigating the contribution of perceived maternal and paternal parenting style (i.e., maternal and paternal guan) to Chinese early adolescents’ school-based social competence and levels of academic performance, postulating moderation by interdependent self-construal.

    Method

    A total of 148 early adolescents (48.6% girls) aged between 10 and 13 years (M = 11.06; SD = 0.90) were involved in the current study, and they were asked to fill in a battery of self-report questionnaires. Moreover, teachers rated their students’ school-related social competence, while academic grades were obtained from school records. To test the hypothesized associations between parental guan, interdependent self-construal, and the two facets of school adjustment (i.e., social competence and academic grades), path analysis was conducted.

    Results

    Linear regression models controlling for age, gender, and socioeconomic status showed that maternal guan was positively associated with social competence. Furthermore, interdependent self-construal moderated the link between maternal guan and school adjustment. Specifically, high levels of ISC were found to enhance the positive relation between perceived maternal guan and both social competence and academic performance. However, no significant associations were found for paternal guan.

    Conclusion

    Our study suggests that paternal and maternal guan hold differential roles in Chinese early adolescents’ school adjustment, and underscore the centrality of mothers in the childrearing process within Chinese families. Most importantly, interdependent self-construal, a pronounced trait in collectivistic societies, is an important factor which boosts the positive link between maternal guan parenting and early adolescents’ school adjustment. Therefore, school-based training programs aiming to enhance interdependent self-construal may be useful to ensure Chinese early adolescents’ successful adaptation and facilitate developmental transitions.

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  • JULY - AUGUST 2019

    Investigating the interplay between parenting dimensions and styles, and the association with adolescent outcomes

    Filip Calders, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Patricia Bijttebier, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Guy Bosmans, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Eva Ceulemans, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Hilde Colpin, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Luc Goossens, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Wim Van Den Noortgate, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Karine Verschueren, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Karla Van Leeuwen, KU Leuven, Belgium

    Background

    Several authors have pointed out that a strictly variable- or person-centred approach, which is most often used in parenting research, is unable to capture the full complexity of child and family psychology. In parenting research, a variable-centred approach has a focus on parenting dimensions; these are the key concepts and most often studied using (continuous) variables. Alternatively, the personcentred approach regards parenting as a complex system that is best understood in terms of whole-system properties and categorises parents into parenting styles. The current longitudinal study combined a person-centred and a variable-centred approach using subspace K-means clustering.

    In this study four objectives were addressed. First, the study tried to identify meaningful groups of parents in longitudinal adolescent reports on parenting behaviour. Second, the dimensional structure of every cluster was inspected to uncover differences in parenting between and within clusters. Third, the parenting styles were compared on several adolescent characteristics. Fourth, to examine the impact of change in parenting style over time, we looked at the cluster membership over time.

    Method

    Our study used subspace k-means cluster analysis, to distinguish clusters based on the five parenting dimensions, in each wave separately. This analysis aims at finding mutually exclusive clusters from subspaces of data instead of the entire data space. This type of analysis simultaneously models the centroids and the within-cluster residuals in subspaces. The location of each centroid is identified via scores on a few between-components, capturing the main differences between the clusters. The within-cluster variability in the observed variables is represented into a few cluster-specific within-cluster components.

    Results

    We identified two clusters (authoritative and authoritarian parenting) in which parenting dimensions were interrelated differently. Authoritative parenting seemed to be beneficial for adolescent development. Longitudinal data revealed several parenting group trajectories which showed differential relations with adolescent outcomes. Change in membership from the authoritative cluster to the authoritarian cluster was associated with a decrease in self-concept and an increase in externalising problem behaviour, whereas changes from the authoritarian cluster to the authoritative cluster were associated with an increase in self-concept and a decrease in externalising problem behaviour.

    Conclusion

    The results of our study suggest that it is possible to capture the complex interplay of group membership and dimensional information by combining the information from multiple dimensions into non-arbitrary groups.

    Our findings highlight the importance of identifying parenting styles based on adolescents’ perspectives on parenting. Identifcation of parenting styles in adolescence may prevent the risk to develop social and emotional problems such as low self-esteem and externalising problem behaviour. In this study we identifed a group of parents that was categorised as authoritarian in all waves (7.75%). These adolescents and their families might beneft from professional guidance on parent-adolescent relationships (e.g., in family therapy) that infuence the patterns of family functioning. Diferentiated parenting advice (e.g., psycho-education) depending on cluster trajectories might increase intervention effectiveness.

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  • JUNE 2019

    Shy Teens and Their Peers: Shyness in Respect to Basic Personality Traits and Social Relations

    Maria Magdalena Kwiatkowska, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland
    Radosław Rogoza, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland

    Background

    Adolescence is a transitional stage of development that bridges childhood and adulthood. A very important aspect of this period is social development, which depends to a large extent on the developing personality traits of the individual. Shyness is one such characteristic which is crucial in terms of establishing social relations. For instance, shyness can make it difficult to meet new people, to make friends or to experience joy from potentially positive social experiences, and others may underestimate the strengths of shy individuals. Researchers agree that shyness is a complex phenomenon resulting from two conflicting motivations: approach and avoidance. This discrepancy is also present when examining shyness in relation to basic personality traits or broad global factors of personality. The main interest of our study was to investigate how shyness is related to basic personality traits and whether these relations are reflected in the social networks of high school students.

    Method

    Due to the planned social network analysis we enrolled a total of 10 entire school classes (253 secondary school students, all 16 years of age). Pupils were administered two short self-report measures: the Revised Cheek and Buss Shyness Scale and the Big Five Inventory-15. In addition we obtained a likeability assessment derived using a sociometric approach. Each pupil was given a roster (i.e., a full list of a class members), and could indicate an unlimited number of classmates he or she liked, which also referred to the extent of liking and social acceptance towards others.

    Results

    A multiple linear regression model, supported by the adaptive LASSO network, showed that shyness is significantly predicted by two traits – extraversion and neuroticism, with extraversion having the strongest effect. Furthermore, as a result of estimating exponential random graph models, we found that shyness negatively predicted the number of outgoing relations, but did not affect the number of incoming relations. We also found that our results for shyness are quite similar to the network characteristics for the introversion, which indeed is marked by significant lack of gregariousness as measured by outgoing ties and no particular relation with popularity as measured by incoming ties.

    Conclusion

    What does it mean to be a shy during adolescence and how does shyness impact social relations within a school class? By integrating these results, we found that shyness in adolescence is closer to low extraversion—both through the lens of self-report personality traits and by examining the actual status of the individual within their social network (i.e., their school class). Is this relevant for understanding the life of shy teenagers? Our research modestly suggests that such individuals are less sociable, driven by a lower need for social relations rather than by negative emotionality and a sense of inferiority. Shy teens are not particularly popular within their peers, but they also do not strive for this popularity. Therefore, future research on the social functioning of shy adolescents should focus on their close intimate relationships, which may be more important for their well-being.

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  • MAY 2019

    A SNP, Gene and Polygenic Risk Score Approach of Oxytocin-Vasopressin Genes in Adolescents’ Loneliness

    Maaike Verhagen, Radboud University, the Netherlands
    Karin Verweij, Radboud University, the Netherlands
    Gerine Lodder, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
    Luc Goossens, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Karine verschueren, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Karla van Leeuwen, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Wim van den Noortgate, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Stephan Claes, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Patricia Bijttebier, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Evelien van Assche, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Jacqueline Vink, Radboud University, the Netherlands

    Background

    Evolutionary theories suggest that inclusion in social groups is an essential prerequisite for survival, since this brings mutual opportunities for (social) care, protection and assistance. One of the consequences of the subjective experience of lacking those significant social relations is loneliness. Not much is known regarding underlying biological pathways to adolescents’ loneliness. Insight in underlying molecular mechanisms could help understanding loneliness and informing intervention efforts aimed at reducing loneliness.

    Method

    Two longitudinal adolescent samples were used to examine the associations between loneliness and genes within the oxytocin-vasopressin (OT-AVP) pathway. The discovery sample consisted of 1,030 adolescents with a mean age of 13.8 years (SD = .94). The replication sample comprised 393 adolescents, with a mean age of 12.8 years (SD = .43). Feelings of loneliness were assessed annually, for three consecutive years.

    Latent growth curve modeling was used to assess both baseline levels and development of loneliness over time. Genes (OXTR, OXT, AVPR1A, AVPR1B) were examined using SNP-based, gene-based and polygenic risk score (PRS) approaches. In the PRS approach, a summed risk score for each individual is calculated, based on their number of risk alleles multiplied by effect sizes from a previous genome-wide association study.

    Results

    In both samples, a small but significant increase in feelings of loneliness over time was observed. Females scored significantly higher on loneliness than males, at assessments 2 and 3 (but not at assessment 1).

    We did find OXTR SNP- and gene-set associations with the developement of loneliness in both samples. However, these did not survive correction for multiple testing. In addition, a significant association of the AVPR1A gene on the baseline level of loneliness was found in Sample 1. Again, this finding did not survive correction for multiple testing. The PRS approach provided no evidence for relations between the OT-AVP pathway and loneliness.

    Conclusion

    Using two comparable adolescent samples, this multi-modal genetic approach has not consistently shown that genes within the OT-AVP pathway are associated with baseline levels or development of loneliness over time. However, we do encourage to use the strengths of this study; examining the same biological pathway in two independent samples of developing adolescents, and combining SNP-based, gene-based, and polygenic risk score approaches to provide step-by-step insight in the respective roles of OT-AVP pathway genes.

    We further recommend alternative phenotyping methods (e.g., state levels of loneliness or chronic loneliness), to include environmental factors (e.g., social support, company), to consider epigenetic studies, and to examine possible endophenotypes (e.g., amygdala responsiveness to emotional faces) in relation to adolescents’ loneliness.

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  • APRIL 2019

    Considering the Negatively Formed Identity: Relationships between Negative Identity and Problematic Psychosocial Beliefs

    Shogo Hihara, Hiroshima University, Japan
    Tomotaka Umemura, Hiroshima University, Japan
    Kazumi Sugimura, Hiroshima University, Japan

    Background

    Forming a firm sense of identity is one of the primary developmental tasks for young people, and a great deal of research has been conducted on identity development. However, contemporary research has still been limited by the fact that, in attempt to understand problematic identities, the main focus has been placed on how people fail to develop positive identities, with Erikson’s theory that identities consist of both positive and negative sides being neglected. A firm sense of negative identity is assumed to be one of the most severe outcomes of problematic identity resolution and is not regarded as simply equating to a lack of positive identity. Despite the limited empirical evidence on negative identity, theorists have proposed that youth with negative identities are likely to hold problematic beliefs in terms of how they relate to society. Specifically, they tend to divide many things in societies into two categories (i.e., friends or enemies) and express cynical hostility and distrust toward others/societies. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between young people’s sense of negative identity and their psychosocial beliefs (i.e., dichotomous beliefs, cynicism, and social distrust), which has been largely unexplored in empirical studies.

    Method

    A total of 2313 young Japanese people (70.9% were female) aged 18–25 years (Mage=20.4, SD=1.6) answered the questionnaire. For negative identity, we used Twenty Statements Test and assigned participants to three identity content valence groups: positive, negative, and balanced identity groups. For psychosocial beliefs, we assessed dichotomous beliefs, cynicism, and social trust. To determine a comprehensive picture of the association between negative identity and psychosocial beliefs, we used both a variable-oriented approach, in which psychosocial beliefs are regarded as facets (i.e., these beliefs were treated as separate variables), and a person-oriented approach, in which psychosocial beliefs are considered profiles (i.e., these beliefs were characteristic of a person as a whole).

     Results

    Regarding our variable-oriented approach analyses, a series of ANOVAs revealed that the negative identity group scored higher in dichotomous beliefs and cynicism, compared to the positive and balanced identity groups. The negative identity group also reported lower social trust, compared to the positive and balanced identity groups. Regarding our person-oriented approach analyses, we first performed latent profile analysis and classified respondents into six psychosocial profiles: High trust, Mid high trust, Moderate, Mid high hostile, High hostile, and Distant profiles. Then, using a chi-square analysis, we found that individuals in the negative identity group were more likely to be categorized into the High hostile profile, which was characterized by the highest dichotomous beliefs and cynicism and the lowest social trust.

     Conclusion

    This study added significant knowledge regarding the psychosocial beliefs of youth with negative identities, a topic that has largely been neglected in identity research to date. Our results demonstrated that negative identities are associated with problematic psychosocial facets, which was consistent with Erikson’s and other researchers’ theories concerning negative identity. Furthermore, we revealed that youth with negative identities were characterized by the high hostility psychosocial profile. In sum, the combination of both facets and profiles provided a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of if and how youth with firm negative identities have a problem with constructing relationships with societies. We hope that the findings of this study will inspire future research and open a novel path for researchers and practitioners regarding supporting youth who exhibit problematic beliefs and behaviors.

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  • MARCH 2019

    Acculturation Gaps in Diaspora Immigrant Adolescent–Mother Dyads: The Case for a Domain‐, Group‐ and Context‐Specific View on Family Adaptation

    Lara Aumann, University of Hanover, Germany
    Peter F. Titzmann, University Hanover, Germany

    Background

    Generations in immigrant families do not always adapt to the new society at the same pace, which results in intergenerational adaptation differences, also termed acculturation gaps. However, the frequent presumption that adolescents are better adapted to the host and less adapted to the ethnic culture than their parents is increasingly questioned in modern multicultural societies. This comparative study investigated mother–adolescent acculturation gaps of two diaspora immigrant samples, who had lived in the former Soviet Union for generations. We compared whether acculturation gaps differ in size and direction across two receiving societies (German repatriates in Germany vs. Russian Jews in Israel), across two dimensions (ethnic vs. host), and across two domains of adaptation (behavioural: language vs. cognitive: identity). In addition, we investigated whether these acculturation gaps are detrimental or beneficial for mother–adolescent communication.

    Method

    The sample comprised 342 participants: 80 German repatriate mother–adolescent dyads in Germany (adolescents’ mean age: 16.9 years, 48.8% female) and 91 Russian Jewish mother–adolescent dyads in Israel (adolescents’ mean age: 15.8 years, 51.6% female) who were interviewed in person at their homes. Intergenerational acculturation gaps were assessed in behavioural (host and ethnic language) and cognitive (host and ethnic identity) domains of mothers’ and adolescents’ adaptation and operationalised as interaction terms.

    Results

    In line with earlier assumptions, our results revealed expected acculturation gaps in the behavioural domains of host and ethnic language: Adolescents scored higher in host and lower in ethnic language competence than their mothers. In the cognitive domains of host and ethnic identity, however, some of our results contradict previous models. For instance, adolescents in Germany scored higher on ethnic identity than their mothers. Since no such difference was found in Israel, this finding reveals country‐ or group‐specific effects. Further, analyses revealed a negative impact of acculturation gaps on family communication: Ethnic language gaps predicted lower levels of adolescent‐mother communication only in Germany, whereas ethnic identity gaps predicted lower levels of adolescent‐mother communication in both samples. In addition, results indicated diaspora‐specific effects in ethnic identity, with adolescents identifying more closely with their ethnic culture than their mothers.

    Conclusion

    Our results support a domain‐, group‐ and context‐specific view on immigrant family adaptation and, hence, a more differentiated view on intergenerational acculturation gaps. In addition, the study highlights that acculturation gaps can undermine parent–child‐communication across both contexts, with some similar and some context-specific processes across both samples. With our results in mind, we would also argue that the consideration of diaspora‐specific aspects in acculturation research seems promising, because diaspora- and return-migration is increasing in numbers worldwide. The implications for research are also obvious: Research should focus on the specific situation of immigrant groups, elaborate on the domain‐ and dimension‐specificity of acculturation processes, and take into account the context of adaptation.

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  • FEBRUARY 2019

    Identity Distress Throughout Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood: Age Trends and Associations with Exploration and Commitment Processes

    Nina Palmeroni, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Laurence Claes, KU Leuven, Belgium and University of Antwerp, Belgium
    Margaux Verschueren, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Annabel Bogaerts, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Tinne Buelens, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Koen Luyckx, KU Leuven, Belgium and University of the Free State, South Africa

    Background

    Identity formation constitutes a central developmental task during adolescence and the late teens and twenties, a period called emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2000). Throughout this life phase, a certain amount of identity distress is to be expected and even contributes to one’s identity development. However, for some individuals, such identity issues can cause a considerable amount of distress leading to pathological forms of identity distress. To target individuals who experience substantial difficulties regarding identity issues, different diagnostic categories of identity distress were developed, namely identity disorder (DSM-III; American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1980) and identity problem (DSM-IV; APA, 1994). Despite the importance of identity-related distress in young people’s development, a detailed picture of identity distress throughout adolescence and emerging adulthood is largely lacking. Accordingly, the present study examined (a) the prevalence of identity distress in adolescence and emerging adulthood, (b) age trends in identity distress from early adolescence through the late twenties, and (c) associations between identity distress and identity processes and how these associations differed among these developmental periods.

    Method

    The study combined seven cross-sectional samples, examining three developmental periods (adolescence, emerging adulthood, and late twenties). A total of 2,286 participants (14 to 30 years; Mage = 18.04; SDage = 3.06; 55.7% females) filled in self-report questionnaires on identity distress (The Identity Distress Survey; IDS) and identity processes (Dimensions of Identity Development Scale; DIDS). To determine the prevalence of identity disorder and identity problem diagnoses in our sample, we calculated the prevalence of participants scoring above the cut-off score of criteria for identity disorder and identity problem. To investigate whether a linear or quadratic function would be the best approximation trends observed in identity distress, a hierarchical multiple regression analysis was conducted. Finally, we examined whether the correlations between identity processes and identity distress differed among the developmental periods.

    Results

    Based on the IDS data, 10.30% of the total sample met the identity disorder diagnosis, while 18,90% met the identity problem diagnosis. Furthermore, identity distress demonstrated a curvilinear age trend with the highest levels generally occurring in emerging adulthood. Concerning the associations between identity distress and identity processes, we found some differences among the developmental periods. More specifically, identity distress was especially positively related to exploration in breadth and negatively to commitment making in the late twenties, and not so much in adolescence and the early twenties.

    Conclusion

    In sum, the present study provides important insights into our knowledge of identity distress throughout adolescence and emerging adulthood. First, the prevalence of identity distress seems to indicate that many young individuals struggle excessively with identity-related questions. Second, theoretically important age trends in identity distress were uncovered, showing that the highest levels of identity distress generally occurred during emerging adulthood. Third, the strongest association between identity distress and exploration in breadth and commitment making were found during the late twenties. These results may indicate that extending one’s explorations of different alternatives (in the relative absence of identity commitments), could be symptomatic of identity distress during this life period.

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  • JANUARY 2019

    Developmental Changes and Individual Differences in Trust and Reciprocity in Adolescence

    Suzanne van de Groep, Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands
    Rose Meuwese, Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands
    Kiki Zanolie, Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands
    Berna Güroğlu, Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands
    Eveline A. Crone, Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands

    Background

    Adolescence, the period between 10 -22 years, is a period in which there are profound social changes, making this a period in which other-oriented behaviors are likely to emerge and become more complex. Two important types of other‐oriented behavior that enable adolescents to successfully navigate their changing social world are trust and reciprocity. Reciprocity (i.e., repaying trust) can be seen as a pro-social behavior, whereas trust refers to transferring something of value to someone else, without expectation of, but no guarantee of reciprocity. As previous studies how conflicting results regarding developmental patterns of trust and reciprocity in adolescence, this study aimed to examine this development in adolescents aged 12-18 years. Furthermore, this study tested the role of gender, risk (a contextual factor) and individual differences in empathy, impulsivity, and antisocial tendencies, in trust and reciprocity.

    Method

    A large sample of adolescents (N = 496) played multiple Trust Games with anonymous others. In the Trust Game, two players are involved in dividing valuable resources, such as a number of coins or tokens. In the current study, the first player was given two options: either to divide the coins in certain way between him/herself and the second player, or to give the share to the second player. If the first player chooses to trust, the coins they give to the second player are multiplied by the experimenter. The second player, then, also has two options: either to keep most of the money to themselves, or to equally divide the coins (reciprocate). Participants played as both player 1 and player 2 such that both trust and reciprocity could be measured. Trusting involves a risk (i.e., losing the coins you give to the second player). In this study, we manipulated the risk by varying the number of coins that could be lost. We also measured individual differences in empathy, impulsivity, and antisocial tendencies with questionnaires to relate them to the development of trust and reciprocity in adolescent boys and girls.

    Results

    We found that the amount of trust remained constant and the amount of reciprocity decreased over the course of adolescence. On average, participants  trusted others 61% of the time and reciprocated trust 72% of the time. Adolescents were less likely to trust others if this entailed a larger risk, and showed that they could take others’ perspective by being more likely to reciprocate if others’ took a large risk by trusting them. On average, males trusted more than females, but no gender differences were found with regard to reciprocity. Furthermore, we found no associations between individual differences in empathy, impulsivity, and antisocial tendencies, and trust; but we found empathy to be associated with the age-related decrease in reciprocity over the course of adolescence.

    Conclusion

    To conclude, this study shows the importance of considering individual differences (e.g. in empathy) and adolescents’ sensitivities to varying contexts (e.g. with regard to risk) in explaining trust and reciprocity development in adolescence. The ability to incorporate the social context in their decisions is important for adolescents to acquire, as they are exposed (and even actively seek out) more diverse social environments and relationships, which they, respectively, have to successfully navigate and maintain.

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  • DECEMBER 2018

    Aspects of Parent-Adolescent Relationship and Associations with Adolescent Risk Behaviors over Time

    Sabina Kapetanovic

    Sabina Kapetanovic, Jönköping University, Sweden
    Therese Skoog, Gothenburg University, Sweden
    Margareta Bohlin, Gothenburg University, Sweden
    Arne Gerdner, Jönköping University, Sweden

    Background

    Among parents’ most fundamental responsibilities is to protect their children against being harmed or harming others. During adolescence, when young people spend time unsupervised, this has to be achieved through indirect means rather than via direct supervision. When parents have knowledge of their adolescents’ whereabouts, they can implement adequate parenting practices to protect their adolescents. The question is how such knowledge is obtained. In the current study, we investigated whether parents gain knowledge through parental solicitation and control, or through adolescents’ voluntary disclosure. We also tested whether parents’ confidence in their parenting, and parent-adolescent connectedness are psychosocial correlates of parental knowledge. We also tested whether these family processes directly and indirectly predict adolescent engagement in risk behaviors over time and whether links deferred between boys and girls.

    Method

    In this study, we used the data from 550 parent-adolescent dyads (Adolescent Mage at T1: 13.0 (±0.56); T2: 14.3 (±0.61) from an ongoing research program Longitudinal Research on Development In Adolescence (LoRDIA), which investigates adolescents’ health, school functioning, social networks, and substance use.

    Parents responded to questions about parental knowledge, solicitation and control, adolescent disclosure, parent-adolescent connectedness and parenting competence. Adolescents responded to questions about their substance use (alcohol and tobacco) and delinquency at T1 and T2. Structural equation modelling with moderation was used to obtain the results.

    Results

    Adolescent disclosure, parental solicitation and control were positively associated with parental knowledge. Parent-adolescent connectedness was positively related to adolescent disclosure, parental solicitation and control and indirectly to parental knowledge. Parenting competence was positively related to adolescent disclosure, parental solicitation and control and both directly and indirectly, through the three sources of knowledge, related to parental knowledge.

    Parental solicitation was directly and positively related to delinquency and substance use at T1. Adolescent disclosure was directly and negatively related to delinquency and substance use at both time points, and parental knowledge was negatively related to substance use at both time points. Parental control had an indirect negative association with substance use at both time points. Both parenting competence and adolescents’ connectedness to their parents were indirectly and negatively related to risk behaviors at both time points.

    Adolescent gender moderated some links. The link between parent-adolescent connectedness and parental control, and the link between adolescent disclosure and delinquent behavior at baseline, was stronger for girls than for boys. The link between delinquent behavior at T1 and T2 and between substance use at T1 and T2 were stronger for boys than for girls.

    Conclusion

    Open communication between parents and their adolescents is important for adolescent development. Building close parent-adolescent relationships and strengthening parents’ trust in themselves may enhance open communication between parents and adolescents. When open communication is established, parents may have better opportunities to protect their adolescents from engagement in risk behaviors without being intrusive.

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  • NOVEMBER 2018

    In-Game Play Behaviours during an Applied Video Game for Anxiety Prevention Predict Successful Intervention Outcomes

    Aniek Wols, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, the Netherlands
    Anna Lichtwarck-Aschoff, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, the Netherlands
    Elke A. Schoneveld, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, the Netherlands
    Isabela Granic, Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, the Netherlands

    Background

    Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent and frequently diagnosed disorders in youth, and associated with serious negative health outcomes. The video game MindLight has been found to be an effective anxiety prevention program. The game incorporates three evidence-based techniques based on cognitive-behavioural principles: relaxation through neurofeedback training, exposure training, and attention bias modification. Results from two randomized controlled trials (RCTs) showed improvements in anxiety that were maintainted up to six months. These results are promising, but it remains unclear whether children improve through the therapeutic techniques that were explicitly designed into MindLight. In this study we examined how children played MindLight, to what extent they interacted with the therapeutic techniques in the game, and whether that was related to improvements in anxiety symptoms.

    Method

    Participants were forty-three 8 to 12-year old children with elevated levels of anxiety that participated in a RCT to test the effectiveness of MindLight. On-screen videotaped output while playing MindLight was coded for the first and last play-session to examine whether changes in in-game play behaviours from the first to the last play-session were predictive of changes in anxiety symptoms at the three-months follow-up assessment.

    Results

    Using hierarchical regression analyses we predicted anxiety symptoms at the three-months follow-up from the difference in in-game play behaviours from the first to the last play-session controlled for anxiety symptoms at pretest. Results showed that changes in in-game play behaviours representing therapeutic exposure techniques predicted improvements in anxiety symptoms three months later.

    Conclusion

    The present study provides a unique contribution to the field by demonstrating that changes in the interaction with the therapeutic techniques in MindLight predicted real-world improvements in anxiety symptoms at the three-months follow-up assessment (when children had not played the game for three months). Using observational codes, the current study provided a first step in testing the effect of the therapeutic techniques incorporated in MindLight, and towards identifying and validating game mechanics that can be used in new applied games to target anxiety symptoms or other psychopathologies with the same underlying deficits.

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  • OCTOBER 2018

    Addressing Ethnic Disparities in Adolescent Smoking: Is Reducing Exposure to Smoking in the Home a Key?

    Jude Ball, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
    Dalice Sim, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
    Richard Edwards, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand

    Background

    In the process of investigating the decline in adolescent smoking, we came across some unexpected findings with important implications for preventing smoking uptake and reducing health disparities.

    As in many other countries, ethnic disparities in smoking prevalence are pronounced in New Zealand. For example, in 2014 13% of Māori (indigenous) Year 10 students (aged 14-15) smoked monthly or more often, compared to 4% of non-Māori. The Māori population has a youthful structure (making up quarter of NZ’s secondary school population but only 15% of the general population) so preventing smoking in adolescents is an important strategy for reducing tobacco-related harm in Māori as a whole.

    To inform prevention efforts, we investigated exposure to and relative importance of known predictors of adolescent smoking (parental, sibling and peer smoking, and exposure to smoking in the home) and how these have changed over time, for Māori and adolescents overall.

    Previous research has shown that exposure to smoking by other people in the home environment increases adolescents’ likelihood of becoming smokers themselves. This may be due to a physiological ‘priming’ effect on neural nicotine receptors, as well as socialisation.

    Method

    We used repeat cross-sectional data, 2003–2015, from a national survey of Year 10 students (N = 20,443 – 31,696 per year). For the overall sample and for Māori and non-Māori, we calculated adjusted odds ratios (OR) to assess the association between adolescent smoking and risk factors each year: one or more parents smoke, best friend smokes, older sibling(s) smoke, and past week exposure to smoking in the home. We calculated population attributable risk (PAR, a measure that combines prevalence of exposure and strength of association) for risk factors in 2003 and 2015.

    Results

    Exposure to smoking in the home became a stronger risk factor for adolescent smoking over time, independent of parental and sibling smoking, particularly for Māori. Between 2003 and 2015, adjusted ORs for exposure to smoking in the home increased from 1.7 to 2.6 for the overall sample, and from 1.8 to 3.4 for Māori. The PAR for exposure to smoking in the home approximately doubled for both groups, while PARs for the other risk factors decreased.

    Teens growing up in smokefree homes were less likely to smoke, even if their parents were smokers. After adjusting for other risk and demographic factors in the model, parental smoking was a weak or non-significant risk factor.

    Conclusions

    Reducing adolescents’ exposure to smoking in the home (e.g. by promoting smokefree homes) is likely to reduce adolescent smoking uptake, with differentially positive effects on Māori. It will also have direct health benefits.

    Many of the harms to the next generation are preventable by ‘taking the smoke outside’, even when parents continue to smoke. This may be an empowering message for parents who struggle to quit, but want to do their best for their children.

    The extent to which these findings are generalizable to other countries is unknown, but our research suggests that exposure to smoking in the home deserves more research and policy attention internationally.

     

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  • SEPTEMBER 2018

    The Role of Maternal Communication Style in Adolescents’ Motivation to Change Alcohol Use: A Vignette-Based Study

    Sophie Baudat, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
    Grégoire Zimmermann, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
    Jean-Philippe Antonietti, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
    Stijn Van Petegem, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

    Background

    Among numerous factors, parents are considered as important for understanding adolescents’ alcohol use, including the degree to which parents set clear and consistent rules about alcohol use. In our study, we explored whether the style of parental rule-setting contributes to adolescents’ motivation to change alcohol use. According to Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 2000), the style of rule-setting is crucial for understanding if limits will be accepted or rejected. Indeed, an autonomy-supportive style (e.g., acknowledging child’s feelings, giving a rationale for rules and providing choice) would be more effective at changing one’s motivation because such a style satisfies adolescents’ basic needs – for autonomy, relatedness, and competence (Grolnick, 2003; Soenens & Vansteenkiste, 2010). Conversely, a controlling style (e.g., guilt-induction, love-withdrawal) would be ineffective because it frustrates adolescents’ needs. In turn, need frustration would elicit maladaptive reactions to the request, such as oppositional defiance or submission (Vansteenkiste & Ryan, 2013). One study partly supported those considerations (Van Petegem et al., 2015), showing that a controlling (vs. autonomy-supportive) style of communicating a request (i.e., study more after a bad grade) was related to adolescents’ autonomy need frustration, which elicited defiance and, in turn, related to less motivation to change study habits. To extend this work, our study aimed to explore those dynamics in the context of alcohol use, thereby testing the association between communication style and intention to change alcohol use, and considering the intervening role of adolescents’ need frustration and both oppositional defiance and submission in this association.

    Method

    A vignette-based study was conducted among 134 Swiss adolescents (53% women; Mage = 17.46 years). Participants were randomly assigned to a vignette describing a hypothetical maternal reaction (either controlling or autonomy-supportive) to an episode of alcohol overconsumption, which involved a request to change alcohol use. After reading the vignette, participants reported upon their need frustration (autonomy and relatedness), their anticipated reactions (oppositional defiance and submission), and their motivation to change alcohol use patterns (abstention and moderation).

    Results

    Results of Structural Equation Modeling analyses indicated that adolescents assigned to the controlling vignette experienced more autonomy and relatedness need frustration. Interestingly, autonomy and relatedness need frustration were associated respectively with two distinct anticipated reactions. First, adolescents who experienced autonomy need frustration reported they would submit to the maternal request which, in turn, was positively related to adolescents’ motivation to abstain or moderate alcohol use. Second, adolescents who felt frustrated in their relatedness need reported they would engage in oppositional defiance, which, in turn, was negatively related to change motivation. In other words, a controlling communication style indirectly related to motivation to change alcohol use through two opposing processes.

    Conclusion

    Our study highlights that the effectiveness of maternal rule-setting regarding alcohol use depends upon the parents’ communication style. In terms of practical implications, these findings are important as it suggests that parents should not abstain from setting rules when confronted with adolescents’ excessive alcohol use; what seems more important is to refrain from using a controlling style when communicating those rules.

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  • JULY - AUGUST 2018

    The Role of Peers for Diabetes Management in Adolescents and Emerging Adults with Type 1 Diabetes: A Longitudinal Study

    Koen Raymaekers, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Leen Oris, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Sofie Prikken, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Philip Moons, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Eva Goossens, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Ilse Weets, VUB, Belgium
    Koen Luyckx, KU Leuven, Belgium

    Background

    The social context of youth with type 1 diabetes plays an important role in the adjustment to the disease. Multiple studies have investigated the role of parents for diabetes management and well-being in adolescents and emerging adults. Just like parents, peers also constitute an important part of youth’s social context. However, despite that the increasing importance of peers in adolescence and emerging adulthood has been widely acknowledged, longitudinal research linking the peer context to diabetes management and outcomes is scarce. Further, previous type 1 diabetes studies mainly focused on peer support at the expense of more negative indicators of the peer context. One such indicator that can be particularly relevant in this respect is extreme peer orientation. Extreme peer orientation refers to the degree to which fitting in with peers is valued more than performing important age-specific tasks (e.g., performing academically) and managing one’s diabetes. Thus, the present longitudinal study in a large sample of youth with type 1 diabetes related both positive and negative indicators of the parent and peer context to diabetes outcomes over a time interval of one year.

    Method

    Our sample consisted of 467 adolescents (14-17 years) and emerging adults (18-25 years) with type 1 diabetes who participated in a two-wave longitudinal study. Questionnaires tapped into peer support, extreme peer orientation, parental responsiveness, diabetes-specific distress (with subdomains food, treatment, and emotional distress), and treatment adherence. As a physiological indicator of how well patients have their diabetes under control (i.e. glycemic control), HbA1c-values were obtained from patients’ treating physicians. Higher HbA1c-values indicate worse glycemic control. Cross-lagged analysis from a structural equation modelling approach was performed to assess directionality of effects.

    Results

    Peer support at T1 predicted relative decreases in emotional, food, and treatment distress at T2. In addition, parental responsiveness predicted relative decreases in food distress at T2. Furthermore, extreme peer orientation at T1 predicted relative increases in treatment distress at T2. Finally, treatment adherence at T1 predicted relative decreases in extreme peer orientation, treatment distress, and HbA1c-values at T2. Multigroup analyses indicated that some cross-lagged paths were moderated by age. For emerging adults specifically, there was a reciprocal relationship between HbA1c-values and extreme peer orientation, as they positively predicted each other. These prospective associations were not significant in adolescents.

    Conclusion

    The finding that peer support negatively predicted diabetes-specific distress on top of parental responsiveness, highlights the importance of peers for the functioning of youth with type 1 diabetes. Further, an undesirable reciprocal relationship between extreme peer orientation and HbA1c-values was obtained for emerging adults and not for adolescents, possibly because adolescents are monitored more intensively by their parents. Hence, it seems important, as a parent or clinician, to monitor emerging adults with problematic peer relationships to avoid problems with diabetes functioning. In sum, the present study underscores the importance of the peer context for adolescents and emerging adults with type 1 diabetes.

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  • JUNE 2018

    How Many Dimensions in the Prosocial Behavior Scale? Psychometric Investigation in French-Speaking Adolescents

    Alexia Carrizales, Bordeaux University, France
    Cyrille Perchec, Bordeaux University, France
    Lyda Lannegrand-Willems, Bordeaux University, France

    Background

    Prosocial behaviors refer to behaviors intended to benefit others and have been theoretically and empirically linked to a variety of positive psychological outcomes for personal and social adjustment especially during adolescence. Although the importance of understanding behaviors that benefit society has been highlighted, few measures and none in French are available. Among the few mesasures assessing the multidimensional nature of prosocial behaviors, Caprara, Steca, Zelli and Capanna (2005) developed a scale for measuring adults’prosocialness (PBS). However, no factorial validity of the multifactorial structure of PBS has been published. The current study investigated whether this scale would be the same in a French sample of early to late adolescents. Specifically, we evaluated its factor structure, internal consistency, convergent validity and measurement invariance across gender and age.

    Method

    Three independent samples were used for the analyses, Sample 1 (N = 1141, Mage = 14.35, SD = 1.69) used in a first Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) for testing the original factor; Sample 2 (N = 1071, Mage = 15.19, SD = 2.27) used in the Exploratory factor analyses (EFA) and Sample 3 (N = 1640, Mage = 14.58, SD = 1.88) used in the CFA analyses (to assess both the factorial validity and the measurement/structural invariance of the PBS). They were divided into two groups based on educational grade. The first one included 867 junior high school adolescents (grade 6–9) and the second one included 773 high school adolescents (grade 10–12). All participants were administered the PBS, a 16-item questionnaire rated on a 5-point Likert scale that assesses four types of prosocial behaviors (sharing, helping, taking care of, and feeling empathic).

    Results

    Although the original four-factor structure yielded an acceptable fit, we decided not to retain this structure due to low discriminant validity. Replication analyses in EFA suggested a two factor solution. CFA showed that the two-factor model that we labeled Helping and Caring had a good fit. They also had good internal consistency. Multigroup CFAs revealed configural and metric invariance across gender and partial scalar invariance.

    Conclusion

    We showed that a two-factor model of the PBS, comprising Helping and Caring, was the best from early and late adolescents. Further investigations with other samples (e.g., emerging adults and adults) compared to adolescents are needed in order to test whether the two-factor model is the best one across age, or whether this structure in two dimensions is specific to the period of adolescence. Indeed, several theories on the development of social cognition posit that during adolescence important steps forward are made in social perspective-taking (Hoffman, 2001), thereby fostering prosocial behaviors (Eisenberg, Spinrad, & Knafo-Noam, 2015). Meanwhile, the capacities of internalized / self-reflective other–oriented modes of reasoning observed across the 20s and into the early 30s might lead to a finer distinction of different dimensions of prosocial behaviors (Eisenberg, Hofer, Sulik, & Liew, 2014). These considerations support our findings and other investigations across age from a developmental perspective.

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  • MAY 2018

    Longitudinal Relations Among Positivity, Perceived Positive School Climate, and Prosocial Behavior in Colombian Adolescents

    Bernadette Paula Luengo Kanacri, P. Universidad Católica de Chile, Chile
    Nancy Eisenberg, Arizina State University, United States
    Eriona Thartori, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy
    Concetta Pastorelli, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy
    Liliana Uribe Tirado, Universidad San Buenaventura, Colombia
    Maria Gerbino, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy
    Gian Vittorio Caprara, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy

    Background

    Mechanisms and processes that support the development of prosocial behavior (i.e., voluntary and intentional behavior that benefits another) appear to be relevant for understanding youth positive development more generally. This study advances our understanding of how adolescents’ dispositions and socialization processes in schools might jointly affect the emergence and consolidation of prosocial behaviors. Adolescents high in positivity might be inclined to actively (and enthusiastically) participate in school activities, to trust teachers, and to develop a sense of interconnectedness with their peers, teachers, and classrooms—behaviors associated with youths’ perceptions of a positive school climate that, in turn, increases their willingness to engage in prosocial actions. However, it is also possible that positivity is affected by a caring school environment—that youths who trust others and feel supported at school develop a more positive view of the world—or that positivity is fostered by the positive social and emotional consequences of one’s prosocial behaviors toward others. In this study, we examined bi-directional relations among youths’ positivity, perceived positive school climate, and prosocial behaviour. Whereas most of the existing research on positivity and positive school climate has been conducted in North America and Europe, the current study encounters the need to examine these constructs in a different region of the world with a distinct culture, such as Colombia.

    Method

    Adolescents (N = 151; Mage of child in wave 1 = 12.68, SD = 1.06; 58.9% males) and their parents (N = 127) provided data in 2 waves (nine months apart). We used a two-wave autoregressive cross-lagged model to investigate the direction of influence between variables by controlling for the autoregressive prediction of variables over time. To deal with measurement error, all variables included in the model at T1 and T2 were treated as latent variables.

    Results

    Findings from this study mainly highlight that: (1) the tendency to look at life, the self, and the future with a positive outlook predicted adolescents’ subsequent perception of having a positive climate in their schools and vice versa. Thus, students’ trust on their possibilities as a group to change and improve school life, their positive perceptions of involvement in collective classroom activities, and their general engagement with school life might be affected by an agentic general approach to respond positively to the environment. Nevertheless, this was not the whole picture because youths’ perceptions of a positive school relational environment predicted the disposition to view one’s self and the world in an optimistic light. (2) Higher levels of a positive school climate at age 12 predicted more prosocial behavior at age 13.

    Conclusion

    Current results legitimate an optimistic search for characteristics of individuals and their ecologies that can enhance positive development across adolescence. Cohesive classrooms and participative school environments may be key in turn positive dispositions (i.e., positivity) into positive behaviors (i.e., prosocial behaviors) in a number of South American countries with similar characteristics and, perhaps, to other groups of individuals in lower socioeconomic groups.

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  • APRIL 2018

    Comparing Acceptance and Rejection in the Classroom Interaction of Students who Stutter and Their Peers: A Social Network Analysis

    Stefanie Adriaensens, University of Antwerp, Belgium
    Sara Van Waes, University of Antwerp, Belgium
    Elke Struyf, University of Antwerp, Belgium

    Background

    At school there is constant interaction among students; friendships are formed, leading to social acceptance or rejection. Social interaction and close relationships have important implications for both physical and mental health. However, what if someone’s social interaction is unrewarding due to stuttering? Recent work has reported adverse effects of students’ stuttering on their social and emotional functioning at school. Yet, few studies have provided an in-depth examination of classroom interaction of students who stutter (SWS). The current study uses a network perspective to compare acceptance and rejection in the classroom interaction between SWS and their peers in secondary education.

    Method

    Social Network Analysis (SNA) (Borgatti, Everett & Johnson, 2013; Carrington, Scott & Wasserman, 2005; Scott, 2013) relies on sociometric data, and offers a variety of measures that include information about direct (e.g., who did you nominate and who nominated you?) and indirect nominations (e.g., who nominated your friends?) of all classmates. SNA, therefore, offers detailed insight into each student’s position in the classroom and into the overall structure of classroom interaction. Our sample comprised 22 SWS and 403 non-stuttering peers (22 classes) of secondary education in Flanders (Belgium), ranging from 11 to 18 years old. Students’ nominations regarding three acceptance (… is my friend; I like …; I can count on …) and three rejection criteria (… isn’t my friend; I don’t like …; I cannot count on …) were combined. Centrality (degree, closeness and betweeness) and reciprocity (dyadic reciprocity and clique size) measures were calculated and compared between the SWS and their non-stuttering peers.

    Results

    We found few significant differences: SWS and their peers were distributed similarly across positive and negative status groups. Both considered and were considered by, on average, six or seven classmates as ‘a friend’, who they liked and could count on, and nominated or were nominated by one or two classmates as ‘no friend’, somebody who they disliked and could not count on. On average, SWS and their classmates also did not differ in terms of structural position in the class group (degree, closeness and betweenness), reciprocated rejection, and clique size. However, SWS do tend to be slightly more stringent or more careful in nominating peers, which led to fewer reciprocated friendships.

    Conclusion

    Although past studies concluded that SWS are often less popular or at increased risk of being rejected and bullied (e.g. Blood & Blood, 2004; Blood et al., 2011; Davis et al., 2002), our results suggest that SWS are quite accepted by peers in secondary education in Flanders. Positive peer relationships could function as a buffer and protect SWS in stressful situations and during negative experiences at school. Moreover, the support of friends could be a significant factor protecting them from being teased. In sum, positive peer interaction can create a supportive and encouraging climate for SWS to deal with stuttering related challenges.

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  • MARCH 2018

    Subjective Financial Situation and Financial Capability of Young Adults in Finland

    Mette Ranta

    Mette Ranta, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
    Katariina Salmela-Aro, University of Helsinki, Finland

    Background

    A key developmental task in young adulthood is gaining financial independence which requires competent life management skills. However, young adults have been often identified as economically vulnerable due to an irregular income and changing life situations, or lack of sufficient financial skills. These skills can be studied from the novel theoretical perspective of financial capability for understanding the process of acquiring financial knowledge and behaviors. This study investigated the applicability of a modified financial capability conceptual model including financial confidence (or financial self-efficacy) and financial behavior as factors contributing to subjective and financial well-being. We supplemented this model with longitudinal information on subjective financial situation.

    Method

    This two-wave longitudinal study used data from the Finnish Educational Transitions Studies (FinEdu) longitudinal research project. Participants were 418 young adults aged 24–25 (at T1) and 26–27 (at T2). Path and mediation models and Structural Equation Modeling following a modified financial capability model were estimated with measures on financial confidence, financial behavior, financial well-being, subjective well-being and subjective financial situation.

    Results

    The results supported the applicability of the financial capability model among young adults in Finland. Significant paths from financial confidence to financial behavior and to financial and subjective well-being were found, as from subjective financial situation at age 24–25 to financial confidence and financial wellbeing at age 26–27. However, subjective financial situation did not have a direct effect on financial behavior, providing support for the significance of financial confidence beyond financial circumstances.

    The mediation model showed indirect effects of subjective financial situation at age 24–25 on financial and subjective wellbeing at age 26–27 through financial confidence and financial behavior. In this respect, the addition of subjective financial situation to the model of financial capability was supported.

    Conclusion

    This study complements previous research by investigating associations between subjective financial situation and financial capability and their respective mediation effects over time.

    The importance of research on individual financial resources and personal experiences of financial capability as important for young adults’ well-being is also highlighted. The study demonstrates that while financial confidence does not directly relate to financial well-being, the mediating effect of financial confidence and financial behavior, together, from subjective financial situation to subjective and financial well-being, is the novel contribution.

    With increasing youth financial problems, it is crucial to identify factors that contribute to financial capability. The past economic recession, early transitions to financial independence and the Nordic welfare state financial support emphasize the importance of studying the Finnish societal context in terms of youth financial capability.

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  • FEBRUARY 2018

    Structural Relations Between Sources of Parental Knowledge, Feelings of Being Overly Controlled and Risk Behaviors in Early Adolescence

    Sabina Kapetanovic

    Sabina Kapetanovic, Jönköping University, Sweden
    Margareta Bohlin, Gothenburg University, Sweden
    Therese Skoog, Gothenburg University, Sweden
    Arne Gerdner, Jönköping University, Sweden

    Background
    During adolescence, many young people take part in a wide range of risk behaviors, such as drinking, stealing or fighting with peers. At the same time, parents are required to support and guide their adolescents to make healthy developmental trajectories possible. In this study, we examined the associations between parental knowledge and its sources, adolescent disclosure, parental control, parental solicitation, and adolescent feelings of being overly controlled. We further studied the relations from parental knowledge and its sources, and feelings of being overly controlled, to three types of risk behavior in adolescence, bullying; delinquent behavior; and substance use. Finally, we examined whether these relations are moderated by gender.

    Method
    In this study, we used first wave of data from an ongoing research program Longitudinal Research on Development In Adolescence (LoRDIA), which investigates adolescents’ health, school functioning, social networks, and substance use.
    In total, 1520 Swedish adolescents (Mage 13.0 (±0.59), 50.6% girls) responded to questions about their bullying, delinquent behavior, substance use and relationship to parents. To study relations between variables, we applied path analyses with full-information maximal likelihood within structural equation modeling. We also tested direct and indirect effects, and conducted multi-group analyses to address the question of moderation.

    Results
    Only adolescent voluntary disclosure and parental control contributed to parental knowledge of adolescents’ whereabouts. Parental knowledge was negatively related to all studied risk behaviors (i.e. bullying, delinquent behavior, and substance use). Further, the findings revealed that adolescent voluntary sharing of information to parents is protective of their engagement in all studied risk behaviors, both indirectly, via parental knowledge, but also directly. Parental solicitation, on the other hand, was associated with higher levels of involvement in delinquent behavior and substance use. Adolescent feelings of being overly controlled was related to higher levels of adolescent bullying.
    In terms of gender moderation, the paths between adolescent feelings of being overly controlled and adolescent bullying, adolescent disclosure and delinquent behaviors, and between parental solicitation and delinquent behavior, were significant for boys but not for girls.

    Conclusion
    Open communication between parents and adolescents, where adolescents willingly share information about their activities, may give parents opportunity to give advice and guidance in a way which adolescents do not perceive as intrusive. When adolescents perceive too strict parental control, that may provoke more, instead of less, engagement in risk behaviors. These findings are particularly relevant for boys.

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  • DECEMBER 2017

    Demographic Factors and Individuation in Relation to Parents Predicting Attachment Avoidance and Anxiety in Turkish Emerging Adults

    Savaş Karataş

    Savaş Karataş, Faculty of Education, Department of Guidance and Psychological Counseling, Maltepe University, Turkey
    Melita Puklek Levpušček, Faculty of Arts, Department of Psychology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
    Luka Komidar, Faculty of Arts, Department of Psychology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

    Background
    Emerging adulthood is a life period characterized by new explorations in different areas such as love, work and worldviews. It is also identified by reduced behavioral and emotional dependencies on one’s parents and by an individual’s postponement of taking over full adult responsibilities. In this period emerging adults still deal with the individuation issues, such as developing personal autonomy while maintaining connectedness to parents.
    When the previous studies are examined, it can be seen that individuation in emerging adulthood has mostly been investigated in western societies; however, recent relational, social, economic, and demographic changes in Turkey demonstrate the need to extend the research on autonomy issues to other societies with more traditional cultural backgrounds. Therefore, fisrtly, we decided to conduct a Turkish validation of the Individuation Test for Emerging Adults-Short Form (ITEA-S) in the first part of the study. Secondly, we investigated the relationship between Turkish emerging adults’ individuation in relation to parents and characteristics of their attachment in a romantic relationship.

    Method
    In this study, we gathered data from two independent samples. The first sample consisted of 510 participants (Mage=22.3, SD=2.7), and the second sample consisted of 246 (Mage=21.1, SD=1.9) participants. The first sample filled in a personal information form and mother and father forms of ITEA-S while the second sample responded to a personal information form and the both forms of ITEA-S and The Experiences in Close Relationships-Revised (ECR-R).

    Results
    Our findings showed that the fit of the 5-factor model to the data was satisfactory for both forms of the ITEA-S. Besides, high standardized loadings ranging from .53 to .89 (MITEA-S-M=.73, MITEA-S-F=.76) indicated good construct validity of the Turkish version of the ITEA-S. The five ITEA-S scales (Support Seeking, Connectedness, Intrusiveness, Self-Reliance, Fear of Disappointing the Parent) also had satisfactory internal consistency with Cronbach a coefficients ranging from .74 to .92.
    The results of the second part of the study showed that the regression models had higher predictive value for the attachment anxiety than the attachment avoidance. Younger participants experienced more attachment anxiety in their romantic relationships, while females reported more attachement avoidance than males in their romantic relationships. On the other hand, there were some differences in contributions of specific individuation dimensions in relation to mother and father to prediction of attachment dimensions. The results specified that connectedness with mother and self-reliance in relation to both parents were negatively associated with attachment avoidance. Also, higher perceived maternal intrusiveness, lower connectedness with father and higher fear of disappointing both parents were related to higher attachment anxiety in romantic relationships.

    Conclusion
    Both mother and father forms of the ITEA-S are appropriate instruments for measuring the individuation patterns of Turkish emerging adults. Also, the study demonstrated that healthy individuation dimensions (connectedness and self-reliance) mostly linked with lower attachment avoidance in romantic relationships, while negative aspects of individuation (intrusiveness and fear of disappointing the parent) associated with higher attachment anxiety in romantic relationships.

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  • NOVEMBER 2017

    The Relationship Between Identity Processes and Well-being in Various Life Domains

    Dominika Karas

    Dominika Karaś, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland
    Jan Cieciuch, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland

    Background
    Identity formation is without doubts one of the main topics in the developmental psychology research nowadays. However, the identity domains usually proposed as the most important for identity (such as ideological or educational) may be inadequate for contemporary young adults. The important question about identity formation in various life domains is: which domain contributes to the greatest extent to individual well-being?
    The main aim of the research was to answer this question by applying a domain-specific approach to identity and examining the relationships between identity processes and well-being in various life domains (previously identified in qualitative study) and identifying the domains that are most important for experiencing well-being in young adulthood. We adopted the three-dimensional model of identity formation, consisted of three pivotal processes: in-depth exploration, commitment and reconsideration of commitment.

    Method
    In presented study we examined the total group of 1329 participants aged 19-35 (M = 22.77, SD = 3.64). We used the Mental Health Continuum – Short Form and the Questionnaire for Eudaimonic Well-Being to measure well-being and the Warsaw Measurement of Identity Commitments Scale to examine identity processes in the following domains: personality characteristics, worldview, hobbies and interests, experiences from the past, future plans, family relationships, relationships with friends and acquaintances, and occupation.
    To examine the relationships between identity processes we tested two types of structural models. Firstly, we tested the separate model for each identity domain, where the identity processes were treated as the predictors of well-being. Then, we introduced all identity domains into one model. Finally, we tested the robustness of the findings from the second step by utilizing another measure of well-being, to confirm the results from the second step.

    Results
    The identity dimensions explained a high proportion of well-being variance (with commitment as the strongest positive predictor). Moreover, in-depth exploration was positively and reconsideration negatively related to well-being. However, the percentage of explained well-being variance varied depending on the domain. When introducing all domains into the one structural model, it appeared that well-being was significantly predicted by all three processes only in personality characteristics domain. In other domains, only a few coefficients were significant. Other domains connected with experiencing well-being were: aims and plans for the future, friends and acquaintances, past experiences, and occupation.

    Conclusion
    Results show that for young adults being strongly committed to one’s personality traits, having stable, satisfactory individual relationships, and being certain about one’s occupational choices are the most important factors for experiencing well-being.
    Moreover, the results show that traditionally examined identity domains, such as ideological, occupational, and relational are not always considered by young people to be significantly important for achieving well-being. Thus, the implications for future research should include the revision of the possible range of identity domains, depending on the aim of the research. When applying the domain-specific approach to identity, one should examine simultaneously a greater variety of domains.

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  • OCTOBER 2017

    Sailing Uncharted Waters: Adolescent Personality Development and Social Relationship Experiences During a Year Abroad

    Henriette Greischel

    Henriette Greischel, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
    Peter Noack, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
    Franz J. Neyer, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

    Background
    Personality development during adolescence has received considerable attention in the preceding decades. However, less is known about interindividual differences in intraindividual trajectories. Previous research suggested international mobility experiences as a context of differential development and revealed that such experiences catalyze personal and social development during young adulthood (Zimmermann & Neyer, 2013).
    ​Yet, despite its increasing commonness, scholars have widely neglected the role of international sojourns for adolescent development. Thus, our study focused on the question: How does spending a year abroad influence the personality and social relationship development of adolescents? To answer this question, we compared sojourning adolescents with those who stayed in Germany with regard to self-selection and socialization processes of personality traits. In addition, we examined social network fluctuation as a mechanism of personality change.

    Method
    The role of international mobility in adolescent trajectories was studied using a prospective control group design comprising 457 sojourners (high school exchange students recruited via the American Field Service) and 284 control participants (German adolescents; 73.3% female; mean age = 15.63, SD = 0.78), all of whom were assessed three times across one academic year. Adolescents’ Big Five and peer relationship fluctuations were assessed at six weeks before departure, as well as two and seven months abroad. Multivariate probit regressions and latent change models were used to analyze selection and socialization effects, respectively. In addition, gains and losses of national and international peer relations were tested as mediators in these change models.

    Results
    Before going abroad, sojourners demonstrated higher levels of Extraversion and Agreeableness, as well as lower levels of Neuroticism compared to controls. Longitudinal results revealed steeper increases in Openness and Agreeableness, as well as less increase in Neuroticism for exchange students. Results indicated that sojourners differed regarding their personality traits before they went abroad and continued to show differential trajectories toward socially desired trait levels later on. Sojourners’ social relationships showed higher fluctuation, which partially mediated sojourn effects on adolescent personality development.

    Conclusion
    We investigated international mobility as a meaningful context of differential trajectories to contribute to a bigger picture of personality development during adolescence. Going abroad for one year as an exchange student has become a global and increasingly common phenomenon in recent years and, therefore, deserves further attention. In our study, sailing uncharted waters played a meaningful role in adolescents’ personal and social development.

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  • SEPTEMBER 2017

    Longitudinal Transmission of Conflict Management Styles Across Inter-Parental and Adolescent Relationships

    Soundry Staats

    Soundry Staats, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Inge E. van der Valk, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Wim H. J. Meeus, Utrecht University and Tilburg University, The Netherlands
    Susan J. T. Branje, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

    Background
    Learning how to manage conflicts appropriately is an important developmental task for adolescents, and is related to their psychosocial functioning. The main context for adolescents to learn and practice effective conflict management skills is the family. Especially, inter-parental and parent–adolescent relationships would be important sources from which adolescents learn how to manage conflicts in other relationships, such as those with friends and romantic partners. Adolescents can observe conflict management styles that are used during inter-parental disputes and practice conflict management styles in relationships with their parents. Subsequently, they can use these observed and practiced styles in conflicts with friends and romantic partners. However, the processes according to which this transmission of conflict management takes place were understudied in research to date. Therefore, we longitudinally investigated transmission of conflict management styles across inter–parental, adolescent–parent, adolescent–friend, and adolescent–partner relationships.

    Method
    In this study, we used four waves of data from the ongoing longitudinal study Research on Adolescent Development and Relationships (RADAR). In total, 799 Dutch middle-to-late adolescents (Mage t1 = 15.80; 54% boys) and their parents reported on their own use of three conflict management styles: positive problem solving, conflict engagement, and withdrawal, by completing the Conflict Resolution Style Inventory. Adolescents reported on the conflict management styles they used in conflicts with their mother, father, best friend, and romantic partner, and both mothers and fathers reported on the conflict management styles they utilized in conflicts with their partner. For each conflict management style separately, we performed path analyses with cross-lagged effects.

    Results
    Our findings indicated transmission of adolescent conflict management styles in relationships with parents to relationships with friends and romantic partners. Positive problem solving and conflict engagement utilized by adolescents in conflicts with parents were significantly, positively related to, respectively, adolescent positive problem solving and conflict engagement in relationships with friends 1 year later and relationships with partners 2 years later. No significant longitudinal effects emerged with regard to withdrawal. For all three conflict management styles, the results yielded no mediation of adolescent-parent relationships between inter-parental and adolescent-friend/partner relationships. Furthermore, no significant differences were found between boys and girls in the transmission of conflict management.

    Conclusion
    The study showed that the way adolescents manage conflicts with parents predicts how they handle conflicts later on in relationships outside the family. As adolescents’ conflict management style is prospectively related to their psychosocial and relational functioning, the results of the current study implicate that it is important to monitor and address adolescent conflict management in relationships with parents, so that constructive conflict management styles are utilized by adolescents in relationships with parents and in later friendships and romantic relationships.

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  • AUGUST 2017

    Assessing the Psychometric and Ecometric Properties of Neighbourhood Scales Using Adolescent Survey Data From Urban and Rural Scotland

    Gina Martin

    Gina Martin, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
    Joanna Inchley, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
    Gerry Humphris, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom
    Candace Currie, University of St Andrews, United Kingdom

    Background
    A positive perspective on mental health has long been neglected in favor of psychopathological perspectives and mental health is often defined as the presence or absence of mental health problems and/or psychiatric diagnoses. However, the absence of mental health problems does not necessarily imply a state of well-being. The aim of this study was to investigate patterns of both self-reported emotional and behavioral problems as well as self-rated well-being in relation to alcohol experiences among Swedish girls and boys in early adolescence.

    Method
    A general sample of 1383 young people aged 12 to 13 years from the research program LoRDIA (Longitudinal Research on Development In Adolecsence) were included in the study. Their internalizing and externalizing problem styles, well-being and alcohol experiences were measured though self-reports. Person-oriented analyses were applied to the data to determine specific mental health configurations (“types”) that occurred more frequently than expected by chance. Health profiles were analyzed both in general and specifically in the subsample of adolescents with an early alcohol debut.

    Results
    Externalizing problems, in contrast to internalizing problems, occurred more commonly in adolescents who reported a high degree of well-being. Girls with low well-being and mental health problems were overrepresented (“types”) among those with alcohol experiences.

    Conclusion
    This is the first published study of data from the premiere data collection wave in the prospective LoRDIA-project. We found that young adolescents are generally “doing just fine”. Externalizing problems are, however, more common than internalizing problems among adolescents reporting high mental well-being. Girls with both mental health problems and low well-being are a vulnerable risk group in general and overrepresented among those with alcohol experiences. We believe that this study is relevant and provides a novel approach for understanding mental health among young adolescents. These results can contribute to knowledge about mental health in the youngest adolescents. We suggest that further research and practice should take both gender perspectives and positive psychology perspectives into account when describing and explaining mental health among adolescents, especially adolescents with an early alcohol debut.

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  • JULY 2017

    Well-being, Mental Health Problems, and Alcohol Experiences among Young Swedish Adolescents: a General Population Study

    Karin Boson

    Karin Boson, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
    Kristina Berglund, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
    Peter Wennberg, Stockolm University, Sweden
    Claudia Fahlke, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

    Background
    A positive perspective on mental health has long been neglected in favor of psychopathological perspectives and mental health is often defined as the presence or absence of mental health problems and/or psychiatric diagnoses. However, the absence of mental health problems does not necessarily imply a state of well-being. The aim of this study was to investigate patterns of both self-reported emotional and behavioral problems as well as self-rated well-being in relation to alcohol experiences among Swedish girls and boys in early adolescence.

    Method
    A general sample of 1383 young people aged 12 to 13 years from the research program LoRDIA (Longitudinal Research on Development In Adolecsence) were included in the study. Their internalizing and externalizing problem styles, well-being and alcohol experiences were measured though self-reports. Person-oriented analyses were applied to the data to determine specific mental health configurations (“types”) that occurred more frequently than expected by chance. Health profiles were analyzed both in general and specifically in the subsample of adolescents with an early alcohol debut.

    Results
    Externalizing problems, in contrast to internalizing problems, occurred more commonly in adolescents who reported a high degree of well-being. Girls with low well-being and mental health problems were overrepresented (“types”) among those with alcohol experiences.

    Conclusion
    This is the first published study of data from the premiere data collection wave in the prospective LoRDIA-project. We found that young adolescents are generally “doing just fine”. Externalizing problems are, however, more common than internalizing problems among adolescents reporting high mental well-being. Girls with both mental health problems and low well-being are a vulnerable risk group in general and overrepresented among those with alcohol experiences. We believe that this study is relevant and provides a novel approach for understanding mental health among young adolescents. These results can contribute to knowledge about mental health in the youngest adolescents. We suggest that further research and practice should take both gender perspectives and positive psychology perspectives into account when describing and explaining mental health among adolescents, especially adolescents with an early alcohol debut.

    DOI > Researchgate > Contact > Website >
  • JUNE 2017

    Developmental Change in Loneliness and Attitudes Toward Aloneness in Adolescence

    Sofie Danneel

    Sofie Danneel, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Marlies Maes, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Janne Vanhalst, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Patricia Bijttebier, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Luc Goossens, KU Leuven, Belgium

    Background
    Loneliness is particularly salient during adolescence. Changes in different social contexts and the inability to cope with these changes can result in different types of loneliness. According to the multidimensional view on loneliness, loneliness can be experienced in relationships with peers and parents and can be placed in a broader perspective by taking into account attitudes toward aloneness (i.e., positive and negative). Cross-sectional studies investigating age differences in loneliness and attitudes toward aloneness are inconsistent. Longitudinal studies are better suited to infer developmental trends in loneliness and attitudes toward aloneness but these studies are scarce. The main aim of the current study was to fill that gap in current knowledge. However, before longitudinal trends can be examined, it is essential to test whether the scale designed to assess loneliness and attitudes toward aloneness measures the same construct over time.

    Method
    Two samples of Flemish adolescents consisting of 834 adolescents (61.9% girls, Mage = 14.84; Sample 1), and 968 adolescents (58.6% girls, Mage = 14.82; Sample 2), respectively, were used. Participants filled out the Loneliness and Aloneness Scale for Children and Adolescents (LACA) during regular school hours on three (Sample 1) and four (Sample 2) measurement occasions with a 1-year interval. Longitudinal measurement invariance analyses and latent growth curve modeling (LGCM) were applied.

    Results
    Results indicated that the LACA shows longitudinal measurement invariance. As a result, latent means for the different subscales across three and four annual waves in middle to late adolescence could be compared. In both samples positive attitude toward aloneness and negative attitude toward aloneness increased and decreased, respectively, throughout adolescence. In addition, in both samples a decrease in parent-related loneliness was found. The results regarding peer-related loneliness were inconsistent across samples.

    Conclusion
    Additional research on the normative development for peer-related loneliness is clearly indicated, as the results were inconsistent across both samples. In contrast with theoretical expectations, a decrease in parent-related loneliness was found, suggesting that adolescents from ages 15 till 18 continue to perceive their parents as supportive. In line with earlier work, an increase for positive attitude toward aloneness was found in both samples, with an accompanying decrease for negative attitude toward aloneness. Thus, adolescents’ growing appreciation of time spent alone as a constructive domain of experience, as predicted in theoretical work (e.g., Goossens 2006; Larson 1997), has been clearly corroborated. In addition, this study found support for the added value of a multidimensional view of adolescent loneliness.

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  • MAY 2017

    Perfectionistic concerns predict increases in adolescents’ anxiety symptoms: A three-wave longitudinal study

    Lavinia E. Damian

    Lavinia E. Damian, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
    Oana Negru-Subtirica, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
    Joachim Stoeber, University of Kent, United Kingdom
    Adriana Baban, Babes-Bolyai University, Romania

    Background
    It has been long proposed that perfectionism is a risk factor that contributes to the development and maintenance of a variety of anxiety symptoms. Cross-sectional studies with children and adolescents showed that both perfectionistic strivings and concerns are positively related to anxiety. However, the question of whether perfectionistic concerns represent a risk factor for the development of anxiety in adolescents is still unanswered, as are the questions of whether perfectionistic strivings play a role and whether the longitudinal perfectionism–anxiety relationships are reciprocal. We tried to answer these questions in the present research.

    Method
    To this aim, we employed a correlational longitudinal design with three waves spaced four to five months apart (overall nine months). Participants were 489 adolescents (54% female) aged 12 to 19 years (mean age at Time 1 was 15.9). We assessed perfectionism with two widely used scales: the Child-Adolescent Perfectionism Scale (Flett et al., 2016) and the Multidimensional Perfectioniosm Scale (Frost et al., 1990). Anxiety symptoms in the past three months were assessed with the self-report version of the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (Birmaher et al., 1997). After confirming longitudinal measurement invariance for both constructs, we conducted cross-lagged analyses in Mplus using the maximum likelihood robust estimator and followed a model comparison approach. We also conducted multi-group analyses to test for possible moderation effects of gender and age.

    Results
    As expected, results showed a positive effect from perfectionistic concerns to anxiety symptoms: Perfectionistic concerns predicted longitudinal increases in adolescents’ anxiety symptoms whereas perfectionistic strivings did not. In addition, anxiety symptoms did not predict increases in perfectionism. The results were the same for girls and boys, but age differences were found.

    Conclusion
    Adolescents who perceived that others had perfectionistic expectations of them and who were concerned about making mistakes and uncertain about their actions tended to experience increased anxiety symptoms over time. The long proposed hypothesis that perfectionism represents a risk factor contributing to the development and maintenance of anxiety symptoms in adolescence found support in the present study. Interestingly, this effect was restricted to middle-to-late adolescents (16-19 years) whereas it was nonsignificant for early-to-middle adolescents (12-15 years). One possible explanation is the fact that cognitive abilities, self-consciousness, awareness of social standards, and susceptibility to evaluative feedback and to others’ achievement expectations increase in adolescence. In addition, it has been shown that older adolescents report higher levels of anxiety symptoms than younger adolescents. Hence, it is possible that, for these reasons, perfectionistic concerns represent a risk factor for the development and maintenance of anxiety symptoms mainly for older adolescents.

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  • APRIL 2017

    Dark Shadows of Rumination: Finnish Young Adults’ Identity Profiles, Personal Goals, and Concerns

    Elina Marttinen

    Elina Marttinen, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
    Julia Dietrich, University of Jena, Germany
    Katariina Salmela-Aro, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland

    Background
    Young people in transition to adulthood take an active and goal-oriented role in their own development. The identity formation process is closely tied to the construction of personal goals that optimize young people’s ability to handle their upcoming lifespan development. This study aimed to shed light on the intertwined processes of young adults’ identity formation and the contents of their personal goals and concerns. Specifically, we examined to what extent there is a “dark side” to certain identity profiles, where individuals not only experience poor well-being, but also differ from individuals in other identity profiles in the kinds of personal goals they set and the concerns they struggle with.

    Method
    We studied sample of young adults (N = 577; 322 females) at age 23 and 25 of ongoing Finnish Educational Transitions Study (FinEdu). At age 23, identity formation was assesed with a short version of the Dimensions of Identity Development Scale. Identity formation was evaluated with five dimensions: commitment making, identification with commitment, exploration in breadth, exploration in depth, and ruminative exploration. For validation purposes, career goal appraisals and well-being (satisfaction with life, depressive symptoms, engagement in academic context and academic burnout) was measured at age 23. Personal goal and concern contents were studied with the Revised Personal Project Analysis Inventory at age 23 and 25. Using person oriented methods, we applied latent profile analysis to reveal identity formation profiles, and configural frequency analysis was employed to identify the more common and rarer personal goal and concern contents within the different identity profiles at age 23 and 25.

    Results
    Five profiles were revealed: moderate achievement (44 %) moderate diffusion (30 %), achievement (14 %), diffused diffusion (9 %) and reconsidering achievement (3 %). Two “dark side” identity profiles, characterized by low commitment and high ruminative exploration, were identified: moderate diffusion and diffused diffusion. The moderate diffusion profile seemed to have developmental task related personal goals and concerns. In the diffused diffusion profile, self-focused ruminative personal goals and concerns were typical and relationships related contents were atypical. The findings persisted over the two years’ follow-up.

    Conclusion
    It has been suggested in the identity and the personal goal literature that young people act adaptively when they intentionally engage in goal pursuits and identity negotiations, which are appropriate in meeting the demands of a developmental transition. Accordingly, the diffused diffusion profile, with multiple self-focused and lack of relationship related personal goals and concerns, can be considered maladaptive and not in line with societal expectations. These individuals seem to be willing to explore the possibilities of the transition to adulthood but for possibly different reasons, they seem to focus their attention on themselves, and engage in rumination.

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  • MARCH 2017

    The Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure – Revised (MEIM-R): Psychometric Evaluation With Adolescents From Diverse Ethnocultural Groups in Italy

    Pasquale Musso

    Pasquale Musso, Palermo University, Italy
    Ughetta Moscardino, Padua University, Italy
    Cristiano Inguglia , Palermo University, Italy

    Background
    Ethnic identity refers to one’s sense of belonging to an ethnocultural group. Research indicates that it is a crucial predictor of psychological adjustment, being associated with higher self-esteem, better coping abilities, and mastery, particularly among ethnic minorities. It becomes particularly relevant in adolescence as related to identity formation, which is a central developmental task in this period. Given its importance for identity formation and psychological well-being, its assessment has become an issue. Among the measures assessing ethnic identity, Phinney and Ong (2007) recently developed the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure – Revised (MEIM-R). Despite its extensive use, studies on its measurement characteristics in the European context are lacking. The current study addressed this gap by investigating the MEIM-R psychometric proprieties across multiple ethnocultural groups in Italy. Specifically, we evaluated its factor structure, internal consistency reliabilities of its scores, measurement and structural invariance, and levels of and group differences in ethnic identity.

    Method
    Participants were 1,445 adolescents (M= 15.08 years; age range: 13-18; SD = 1.02; 47% female) of Italian (64%), East European (14%), and North African (22%) origin. All participants were administered the MEIM-R comprising two subscales, ethnic identity exploration and commitment. Each subscale includes three close-ended items placed on a 5-point scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) and multigroup CFAs were performed to assess both the factorial validity and the measurement/structural invariance of the MEIM-R. Internal consistency reliability of the MEIM-R scores were assessed using Cronbach’s alpha and McDonald’s omega coefficients.

    Results
    Results showed that the MEIM-R has good internal consistency. Multigroup CFAs revealed configural and metric invariance, i.e., an equal, correlated two-factor structure (ethnic identity exploration and commitment) and equal factor loadings across ethnocultural groups. Scalar invariance, i.e., equal item intercepts, was found only for the commitment scores that showed no group differences in latent factor mean levels. Partial structural invariance was evidenced, with the factor covariances varying across groups.

    Conclusion
    To our knowledge, our study is the first to investigate the psychometric properties of the MEIM-R across ethnically diverse adolescent samples in a European country. Consistent with previous research, we found evidence for a correlated two-factor structure, good internal consistency reliabilities, and configural and metric invariance of the MEIM-R. Also, the results supported measurement invariance for the commitment subscale, but only partial measurement invariance for the exploration subscale. Furthermore, inter-factor correlation varies as a function of ethnocultural group. These latter findings may be related to majority-minority status, differences in exposure to identity issues, specific dynamics in the processes of ethnic identity formation, and specific social and cultural features (e.g., generational status and religion) of the studied groups. To sum up, our study suggests that the MEIM-R is a valuable tool to assess the correlates of ethnic identity across ethnoculturally diverse adolescent groups in Italy. However, only comparisons of MEIM-R commitment scores are meaningful at this stage, whereas exploration scores across various groups should be performed with caution. Thus, further research on this popular measure is necessary.

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  • FEBRUARY 2017

    On the Development of Harmony, Turbulence, and Independence in Parent-Adolescent Relationships: A Five-Wave Longitudinal Study

    Hana Hadiwijaya

    Hana Hadiwijaya, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
    Theo Klimstra, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
    Jeroen Vermunt, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
    Susan Branje, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Wim Meeus, Utrecht University and Tilburg University, The Netherlands

    Background
    Distress in family relationships often increases as adolescents strive for more autonomy and independence. So far, research has mainly focused on general patterns of relationship quality development, while individual differences in development received less attention. However, whereas some adolescents might perceive distress in their relationship development, others might not. It could also be that those who perceive distress succeed in restoring the relationship quality with their parents by the end of adolescence, whereas others fail. This study provides a comprehensive perspective on changes in parent-adolescent relationship quality by examining both general and individual developmental patterns. First, we examined the general and typical developments by exploring change and stability in the prevalence of relationship quality profiles across the years. Second, we identified the atypical developments by investigating individual patterns that explain the changes in prevalence of profiles (i.e., patterns of adolescents changing from one profile to another).

    Method
    In the present study, we used a two-cohort five-wave longitudinal study design covering ages 12 to 16 (n = 919, 49.2% female) and 16 to 20 (n = 392, 56.6% female). Adolescents’ perceived support, conflict, and relative power in the relationship with their mothers and fathers were measured using the Network of Relationships Inventory. A latent transition analysis was performed to generate relationship profiles using the support, conflict, and power relationship variables. Additionally, this analysis identifies the number of adolescents in each relationship profile at every measurement occasion and estimates the extent to which adolescents remain in their current profile or change into another.

    Results
    From ages 12 to 16 years, only a subgroup of adolescents moved away from perceiving an authoritative relationship with their parents or changed into an uninvolved-discordant or turbulent relationship. Interestingly, some continued to perceive an authoritative relationship and many changed into perceiving a harmonious relationship with their parents. From ages 16 to 20 years, a majority of adolescents changed the relationship with their parents into an egalitarian and harmonious one. However, some continued to perceive the relationship with their parents as uninvolved-discordant or turbulent.

    Conclusion
    Our study provides new and unique evidence for adolescence being far less intense than presumed, as only a minority of adolescents experienced distress in the relationship with their parents. Importantly, we demonstrated that many adolescents successfully grew to perceive themselves as independent individuals and simultaneously established a satisfactory relationship by the end of adolescence despite the distress that emerged. Together, our promising findings mark the need for studying individual differences in relationship development across adolescence.

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  • JANUARY 2017

    Is Social Anxiety Associated With Cannabis use? The Role of Cannabis use Effect Expectancies in Middle Adolescence.

    Emilie Schmits

    Emilie Schmits, University of Liège, Belgium
    Cécile Mathys, University of Liège, Belgium
    Etienne Quertemont, University of Liège, Belgium

    Background
    Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug among teenagers. Adolescents with social anxiety disorder have greater risk of developing adult cannabis dependence relative to those without this disorder. Cannabis use also appeared to be related to cannabis effect expectancies, and a relationship between social anxiety and cannabis effect expectancies was reported in the literature. However, further studies are required to confirm the role of cannabis effect expectancies in the relationship between social anxiety and cannabis use, especially during adolescence, the period of life during which social anxiety and cannabis use generally emerge.

    Method
    A questionnaire was administered to 1,343 Belgian teenagers (M=15.7; age range: 14-18; SD=0.88; 49.59% of female). The data proceeded from the first of four waves in a longitudinal study. Several factors were studied: lifetime cannabis use, frequency of use, related problems, effects expectancies, and social anxiety. Linear and logistic regressions were performed to identify expectancies related to social anxiety and cannabis use, and mediation/moderation analyses were carried out.

    Results
    First, social anxiety was shown to be negatively related to lifetime cannabis use but not to frequency and problems of use. Second, lifetime cannabis use was associated with every cannabis effects expectancy and high-order positive and negative effects expectancies. Third, social anxiety was negatively related to perceptual enhancement and craving effect expectancies and positively related to negative behavioral effects expectancies and high-order negative effects expectancies. Fourth, the study showed that relaxation and social facilitation effect expectancies and high-order positive effect expectancies may be considered moderator variables of the relation between lifetime cannabis use and social anxiety. Negative behavioral effects expectancies and high-order negative effects expectancies may be perceived as partial mediating variables.

    Conclusion
    The present study identified a negative relationship between social anxiety and lifetime cannabis use among adolescents. It also helps define the mechanisms underlying cannabis use initiation. Our data suggest that social anxiety is a potential protective factor for lifetime cannabis use in middle adolescence. Clearly, positive and negative effect expectancies play an important role in this relationship. These results support the importance of cannabis use effect expectancies in preventive programs.

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  • DECEMBER 2016

    The Longitudinal Examination of the Directional Effects Between Perceived Parental Psychological Control and Adolescents’ Self-Reported Externalizing and Internalizing Problems in Lithuania

    Goda Kaniušonytė

    Goda Kaniušonytė, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania
    Rita Žukauskienė, Mykolas Romeris University, Lithuania

    Background
    It is known that parental rearing practices has effect on children’s social, emotional, and behavioral development. One of those practices is parental psychological control (behavior that includes constraining, invalidating, and emotionally manipulating the child). There is strong evidence that parental psychological control is associated with adolescents’ maladjustment, including internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors. Numerous studies have shown that parents of children and adolescents with internalizing and externalizing problems use more controlling behaviors, however, there is no consensus regarding direction of this effect. Therefore, in the current study we examined a longitudinal cross-lagged model in order to determine whether parental excessive control plays a causal role in the development of adolescents’ problem behavior or vice versa.

    Method
    In study we used three-wave longitudinal community sample of Lithuanian adolescents. In this study only students who lived with both parents were used (N = 586, Mage T1 = 15.63, 51. 4 % girls). Participants reported on parental (Father and mother separately) psychological control (8-item Psychological Control Scale-Youth Self Report, PCS-YSR, Barber 1996) and internalizing/externalizing problem behaviors (ASEBA Youth Self-Report, YSR 11-18, Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001). Consistent with the goal of examining reciprocal relations among paternal and maternal psychological control and internalizing and externalizing problems over time, we used cross-lagged analysis.

    Results and Conclusion
    Results revealed evidence for both parents and adolescent effects with strongest effects for internalizing behaviors to parental psychological control and mothers’ psychological control to adolescents’ externalizing behaviors. We found significant differences between boys and girls in their problem behaviors and perception of parental psychological control. However, the absence of clear pattern prevents us from assumptions about the importance of parents’ gender separately for boys and girls. No moderation effect of age and socio-economic status was found, indicating that relationship between psychological control and problem behavior is consistent in different age groups and independent of socio-economic status. Overall, the results provide support to a reciprocal model in that adolescents affect parents as much as parents affect adolescents.

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  • NOVEMBER 2016

    Sources of Social Support and Mental Health Among LGB Youth

    Ryan Watson

    Ryan J. Watson, University of Connecticut, USA
    Stephen T. Russell, University of Texas at Austin, USA
    Arnold H. Grossman, New York University, USA

    Background
    Disparities in psychosocial adjustment have been identified for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth, yet research that explores multiple sources of social support among subgroups of LGB youth is sparse. Most youth receive simultaneous support from several different types of interpersonal relationships. Each type of relationship (e.g., family, friend, teacher, classmate) provides distinct sources of resources and specialized support. We examined whether multiple sources of social support, in the context of perceived importance of that support, were associated with the psychosocial adjustment of LGB youth, and whether there were differences across sex and sexual identities. We measured both the importance and presence of sources of social support for LGB male and females.

    Method
    Participants were 835 self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, and/or youth with same-sex attraction in three major cities in the Northeast, Southwest, and on the West Coast of the United States. Youth were recruited from community-based agencies and college groups by snowball sampling. The data came from the first of four waves in a longitudinal panel study of the risk and protective factors of suicide among sexual minority youth. We measured depression using the 20-item Beck Depression Inventory and self-esteem using 10 items of the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. In addition, we measured parent, close friend, teacher, and classmate support using the Child and Adolescent Social Support Scale.

    Results
    For gay male youth, only parent support was associated with less depression. Parent and close friend support were associated with higher self-esteem for gay youth. Parent, classmate, and close friend support were related to less depression for lesbian youth, but no support sources were associated with self-esteem for lesbian youth. Among bisexual youth, parent support was associated with less depression and higher self-esteem for males. For bisexual females, close friend support was associated with less depression, and parent support was associated with higher self-esteem.

    Conclusion
    This study contributes a deeper understanding of psychosocial adjustment and the role of social support for sexual minorities by elucidating different patterns of support for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Not all sources of social support were equally important for LGB youths’ psychosocial adjustment; instead, support sources operated differently among sexual minority subgroups, which suggests that there is no monolithic approach to dealing with LGB adolescents’ adjustment at home and school.

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  • OCTOBER 2016

    Adolescents’ Loneliness and Depression Associated with Friendship Experiences and Well-Being: A Person-Centered Approach

    Annette W. M. Spithoven

    Annette W. M. Spithoven, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Gerine M. A. Lodder, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
    Luc Goossens, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Patricia Bijttebier, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Margot Bastin, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Maaike Verhagen, Radboud University, The Netherlands
    Ron H. J. Scholte, Radboud University, The Netherlands; Praktikon, The Netherlands

    Background
    It is often suggested that loneliness and depression are distinct, but partly overlapping constructs. More specifically, even though loneliness and depression are highly correlated, they are differentially related to other constructs, such as personality and suicidal ideation, have different developmental trajectories and have different presumed gender differences. Yet, it remains unclear whether and how loneliness and depression are coupled within individuals or whether one might experience either loneliness or depression. The current study examined whether loneliness and depression clusters could be identified in adolescents and whether these patterns were differentially related to friendship experiences and well-being. In order to check the robustness of the identified clusters, we used two samples to conduct the cluster analysis on.

    Method
    In two samples, 417 and 1,140 adolescents (48.40% and 48.68% male, respectively) reported on loneliness and depression. On average the adolescents, in the respective samples, were 12.47 (SD = 1.89) and 12.81 (SD = 0.42) years old. In Sample 2, participants also completed measures of happiness, self-esteem, friendship quantity and quality.

    Results
    Cluster analysis revealed four clusters. In the first cluster (70.74% and 78.51%) adolescents scored low on both the loneliness and depression (common cluster). The second cluster (15.59% and 4.82%) consisted of adolescents who scored high on depression, but relatively low on loneliness (predominantly depressed cluster). Adolescents in the third cluster (13.07 and 9.11%) scored high on loneliness, but scored relatively low on depression (predominantly lonely cluster). Adolescents in the fourth cluster (4.56% and 3.60%) scored high on both the loneliness and depression measures (co-occurrence cluster). Adolescents in the common cluster had the highest friendship quality, happiness, and self-esteem scores. Adolescents in de predominantly depressed cluster experienced low happiness and self-esteem, but they did not have lower friendship quantity or quality in comparison to the common cluster. Adolescents in the predominantly lonely cluster had lower friendship quantity and quality as well as lower self-esteem compared to the common cluster. Adolescents in the co-occurrence cluster had the lowest friendship quantity and quality as well as lowest happiness and self-esteem in comparison to all other clusters.

    Conclusion
    Our findings suggest that loneliness and depression present themselves, more often than not, independently of each other within individuals. However, if adolescents are high on loneliness and depression, they have the lowest adjustment. The current study stresses the importance of assessing both loneliness and depressive symptoms, as their mutual relation within individuals is differentially related to other constructs of adjustment.

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  • July 2016

    Discrepancies between Perceptions of the Parent-Adolescent Relationship and Early Adolescent Depressive Symptoms

    Stefanie A. Nelemans

    Stefanie A. Nelemans, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and KU Leuven, Belgium;
    Susan Branje, Utrecht University, The Netherlands;
    Bill Hale, Utrecht University, The Netherlands;
    Luc Goossens, KU Leuven, Belgium;
    Hans Koot, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
    Tineke Oldehinkel, University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands;
    Wim Meeus, Utrecht University and Tilburg University, The Netherlands

    Background
    Adolescence is a critical period for the development of depressive symptoms and lower quality of the parent-adolescent relationship has been consistently associated with higher levels of adolescent depressive symptoms. However, adolescents and their parents often differ in their views of the parent-adolescent relationship, especially in early adolescence. For example, adolescents tend to perceive the parent-adolescent relationship more negatively than their parents do. Such discrepancies between adolescents and parents in their perception of the parent-adolescent relationship may be particularly important to consider as a risk for the development of adolescent depressive symptoms. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to examine how discrepancies in adolescents’ and parents’ perceptions of the parent-adolescent relationship were associated with early adolescent depressive symptoms, both concurrently and longitudinally over a 1-year period.

    Methods
    Participants in this two-wave longitudinal community study were 497 adolescents (57% boys, Mage T1 = 13.03 years) and both parents, who all completed several questionnaires on two occasions with a 1-year interval. Adolescents reported on their depressive symptoms and all informants (i.e., adolescents, mothers, and fathers) reported on quality of the parent-adolescent relationship. Data are part of the young cohort of the Research on Adolescent Development and Relationships (RADAR) study. For our statistical analyses, we followed recent recommendations (Laird & De Los Reyes, 2013; see also Edwards, 1994, 2002) to use polynomial regression analysis including tests of moderation between perceptions of different informants rather than difference scores. Using interaction terms in regression analysis, we tested whether associations between adolescent-perceived quality of the parent-adolescent relationship and early adolescent depressive symptoms varied as a function of higher (or lower) mother/father-perceived quality of the parent-adolescent relationship.

    Results and Conclusion
    Results suggested the highest levels of concurrent early adolescent depressive symptoms when both mothers and adolescents reported low mother-adolescent relationship quality (i.e., a correspondence effect), but also when adolescents reported low father-adolescent relationship quality and fathers reported high father-adolescent relationship quality (i.e., a discrepancy effect). However, parent-adolescent correspondence or discrepancies were not significantly associated with changes in early adolescent depressive symptoms over a 1-year period, suggesting that associations appear to be more short-term than long-term. Altogether, the pattern of findings in our study suggest that using a more sophisticated methodology like polynomial regression analysis, rather than difference score analyses, can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of risk factors (in the parent-adolescent relationship) for early adolescent depressive symptoms.

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  • May 2016

    Assessment of Identity During Adolescence Using Daily Diary Methods: Measurement Invariance Across Time and Sex

    Andrik I. Becht

    By: Andrik I. Becht, Utrecht University, The Netherlands;
    Susan Branje, Utrecht University, The Netherlands;
    Wilma Vollebergh, Utrecht University, The Netherlands;
    Dominique Maciejewski, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
    Pol van Lier, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
    Hans Koot, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
    Jaap Denissen, Tilburg University, The Netherlands;
    Wim Meeus, Utrecht University and Tilburg University, The Netherlands

    Background
    Establishing a firm identity is one of the key developmental tasks in adolescence (Erikson, 1968). It has been increasingly suggested to study identity processes on the short-term, in order to advance our knowledge on how short-term identity formation unfolds in adolescence (Lichtwarck-Aschoff et al., 2008). Following this suggestion, studies have started using daily diary methods to study identity development in adolescence. However, for valid comparisons of identity scores over time or across sex, it is important to assess whether these daily reports assess the same construct over time as well as across boys and girls. That is, such daily diary reports must show measurement invariance, implying that they measure an identical construct across time and groups (van de Schoot, Lugtig, & Hox, 2012). Therefore, the aim of the current study was to assess measurement invariance of adolescents’ daily identity reports across time (i.e., from early to late adolescence) and across sex.

    Methods
    Dutch adolescents (N = 494; Mage = 13.32 years at T1, 56.7% male) from the general population reported on their identity commitments, exploration in depth, and reconsideration on a daily basis for a week every four months, across 5 successive years. We used the single-item version of the Utrecht Management of Identity Commitments Scale (U-MICS; Klimstra et al., 2010), a measure of identity formation processes covering both the interpersonal and educational identity domains. Using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), this study tested configural invariance (i.e., equal pattern of factors across time and sex), metric invariance (i.e., equal factor loadings across time and sex), scalar invariance (i.e., equal item intercepts across time and sex) and strict invariance (i.e., equal item residual variances across time and sex). These tests for measurement invariance were conducted across days within weeks, across sex, across weeks within years, and across years.

    Results & Conclusion
    Findings based on the CFAs indicated that daily identity reports showed configural, metric, scalar and strict measurement invariance (1) across days within weeks; (2) across days within weeks for boys and girls; (3) across weeks within years; (4) and across 5 years in both the educational and interpersonal identity domains. Our findings that daily diary methods consistently show measurement invariance across various time intervals (i.e., from days to years) and across sex suggests that daily diary reports of identity formation processes can be used to measure identity across adolescence as well as across boys and girls.

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  • April 2016

    Me, Myself, and Mobility: The Relevance of Region for Young Adults’ Identity Development

    Elisabeth Schubach

    By:
    Elisabeth Schubach, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
    Julia Zimmermann, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
    Peter Noack, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
    Franz J. Neyer, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany

    Background
    With the rise of globalization and a vastly increased availability of communication possibilities, residential mobility—the change of residence—has become a main characteristic of everyday life in most Western cultures (Oishi, 2010). Therefore, accomplishing developmental tasks in various life domains is not any longer tied to one’s local living quarters, but is increasingly calling for a widespread geographical surrounding. This further suggests that individuals are forced to address questions concerning their geographical placement, especially in times of developmental transitions. As a result, region, the living environment of individuals’ everyday lives, represents a striking domain of identity development (Schubach, Zimmermann, Noack, & Neyer, in press). In view of the recurring need for maintaining and revising regional identity throughout the lifespan, we incorporated regional identity into existing developmental identity concepts (Crocetti, Rubini, & Meeus, 2008).

    Design and Research Questions
    Using the longitudinal KOMPASS Study on Career Trajectories and Individual Development of German Post-Secondary Graduates (KOMPASS), we had a prospective design comparing 1,795 individuals (71% female, mean age of 24.54 years) who relocated and others who stayed–movers and non-movers, respectively.
    The present study pursued to major goals: We first aimed to test whether region is a relevant identity domain and therefore investigated the pattern of regional identity statuses. We second wanted to clarify the adaptive development of regional identity. To do so, we investigated meaningful associations with personality traits and life satisfaction. In addition, to explore how and why regional identity changes, we studied the stability of regional identity statuses across time, analyzing transitions between statuses and examining the impact of a life transition on identity development.

    Results and Discussion
    First, four regional identity statuses emerged—moratorium, searching moratorium, closure, and achievement. This pattern is similar to previous results on job identity statuses (Crocetti et al., 2014). The absence of a fifth status (i.e., diffusion) points to the salience of region as a core domain of identity. Second, the emergent statuses showed meaningful associations with personality traits and life satisfaction. These associations illustrate the adaptive function of regional identity as a more established regional identity coincided with higher life satisfaction and higher scores on personality traits related with maturity (Roberts, Walton, & Viechtbauer, 2006). This further implies that regional identity shows as similar developmental trajectory as other identity domains (Crocetti, Schwartz, Fermani, Klimstra, & Meeus, 2012; Luyckx et al., 2014). Third, the stability of identity status membership across a period of six months was highest for the non-movers group. Comparatively less stability across time was found for the movers, underscoring the relevance of transitions for identity development.

    Conclusion
    We conclude that in a mobile world the placing of the self in geographical spaces, and thus, regional identity, matters. This is due to sociocultural changes that have made it necessary for individuals to fulfill their developmental tasks in a broader geographical context. This study is also, to the best of our knowledge, the first to link life transitions to identity status transitions. We hope that future research will continue to explore the trajectories of regional identity.

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  • March 2016

    On the Interplay between Academic Achievement and Educational Identity: ​A Longitudinal Study

    Ioana Pop

    By: Eleonora Ioana Pop, Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania
    Oana Negru-Subtirica, Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania
    Elisabetta Crocetti, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
    Adrian Opre, Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania
    Wim Meeus, Utrecht University and Tilburg University, the Netherlands

    In adolescence, the construction of a synthesized sense of identity becomes a prominent developmental task with important implications for personal and social adjustment (Erikson, 1968). As adolescents spend most of their time in school settings and learning activities, it raises the question: What role academic achievement plays in identity development? Some studies (e.g., Leary, 2005) supported the idea that academic achievement represents the gauge of students’ success or failure, which might foster or threaten adolescents’ social acceptance and implicitly strengthen or weaken their educational identity (Luyckx, Goossens, & Soenens, 2006). Other studies highlighted that a strong educational commitment enhance students’ motivation, which in turn might lead to improvements in academic achievement (Oyserman & Destin, 2010; Roeser, Peck, & Nasir, 2012).

    Using a longitudinal design with three measurement points spaced 3-to-4 months apart, in the present study we first analyzed the developmental patterns of educational identity (i.e., commitment, in-depth exploration, and reconsideration of commitment; Crocetti, Rubini, & Meeus, 2008) and academic achievement (i.e., GPA, Grade Point Average). Then, we examined the directionality of effects between these two constructs: Does GPA drive relative changes in identity or is it the other way around?
    The longitudinal sample consisted of 1,151 adolescents (58.7% female) recruited at seven theoretical and vocational schools (Grades 8-12), with a mean age of 16.45 years at Time 1. The total sample was divided into an early-to-middle adolescent cohort (n = 462, M age = 15.04, SD age = 0.62, age range = 13-15 years) and a middle-to-late adolescent cohort (n = 689, M age = 17.39, SD age = 0.89, age range = 16-19 years).

    Findings revealed that adolescents started the academic year with positive identity configurations (i.e., high levels of commitment and in-depth exploration, and low levels of reconsideration of commitment) and relatively high levels of academic achievement. However, by the end of the academic year adolescents registered slightly increases of identity uncertainty/ confusion and decreases of academic achievement levels, especially boys and students from vocational schools. Findings also pointed out that academic achievement predicts the manner in which adolescents deal with their identity issues in the academic context and not the other way around. Thus, high academic achievement leads to high levels of educational commitment (identity synthesis), while low academic achievement leads to high levels of reconsideration of educational commitment (identity confusion). With one exception (i.e., educational commitment at Time 2 was found to be a positive and significant predictor for GPA at Time 3 for boys (β= .05, p<.05), but not for girls), this unidirectional pattern of effects applied equally to adolescent boys and girls, early-to-middle and middle-to-late adolescents, and to adolescents attending theoretical and vocational schools. In conclusion, the present study revealed that in academic context commitment and in-depth exploration represent the bright side of identity development, while reconsideration of commitment represents the dark side. Thus, according to our findings, developing a healthy educational identity in adolescence implies choosing and strengthening educational commitments through high academic achievement levels.

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  • February 2016

    Life on Hold: Staying in Identity Diffusion in the Late Twenties

    Johanna Carlsson

    By: Johanna Carlsson, Maria Wängqvist, & Ann Frisén
    University of Gothenburg, Sweden

    Experience of a long-term identity crisis has been suggested to result in symptoms of identity diffusion, such as lethargy and intimacy problems (Erikson, 1968). This study explored this issue in detail, by investigating what it means to experience identity diffusion across time. The investigations were guided by three research questions:

    1. How do identity narratives from individuals assigned to identity diffusion at both ages 25 and 29 change and remain stable over time?
    2. What do individual patterns of narrative change and stability reveal about experiences of identity diffusion in the late twenties?
    3. Do individuals who are assigned to identity diffusion at both ages 25 and 29 report identity distress or psychological symptoms at either age?

    Methods
    The study is based on the eighth and ninth wave of GoLD (Gothenburg Longitudinal study of Development; Lamb et al., 1988) when participants were approximately 25 (M = 24.9, SD = 0.7) and 29 (M = 29.3, SD = 0.6) years old. A total of 124 (63 women) participants took part in both these waves. This study involved an in-depth investigation of the seven participants (all male) who were assigned to identity diffusion at both ages 25 and 29 (Carlsson, Wängqvist, & Frisén, 2015), based on Identity Status Interviews (Marcia et al., 1993; Frisén & Wängqvist, 2011).
    Change and stability in participants’ identity narratives were examined through Identity Status Interviews. The interview narratives were analyzed in three steps: (1) The participants were treated as singular case studies, in which differences and similarities between their interview narrative from ages 25 and 29 were summarized for each participant separately. (2) The seven case summaries were analyzed with thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006). A combination of inductive and deductive approaches was used. The deductive parts were based on a model derived from previous analyses of individuals assigned to the same identity status, with established commitments, at both ages 25 and 29 (Carlsson et al., 2015). (3) The final step was to make sure that the thematic model (developed in Step 2) represented the data, and to determine individual patterns across the model. First, a coding scheme was developed based on the model. Then, the seven case summaries were coded according to this coding scheme.
    At both ages 25 and 29 experiences of identity distress was measured with the Identity Distress Survey (IDS; Berman, Montgomery, & Kurtines, 2004). At age 25, psychological symptoms were measured with the SCL-90. At age 29, a short version of the same measure, BSI-18, was used.

    Results
    The longitudinal analysis of the identity narratives showed that long-term experiences of identity diffusion may be described through a model including three dimensional themes: (1) Individuals’ approach to changing life conditions, spanning from decreased activity and lack of initiative in relation to changing life conditions to increased haphazard activity in relation to changing life condition (without desire to make commitments); (2) The extent to which individuals engage in meaning making, spanning from decrease in elements of meaning making to substantial increase in elements of meaning making; And (3) how individuals develop their personal life direction, spanning from dissolving of personal life direction to further development of personal life direction.
    Participants’ individual patterns across the model showed that most approached changing life conditions either with decreased activity or increased haphazard activity, unwilling or unable to explore alternatives or make identity commitments. Most of them also showed no or little increase in meaning making and either no change in or a dissolving of their development of personal life direction. Two participants differed from this general trend: One by showing little change in the identity narrative between the interview occasions (i.e., his case summary was consistently coded to the middle of the model), and one by showing some signs of identity development (i.e. substantial increase in meaning making and further development of personal life direction), but still this participant approached changing life conditions with increased haphazard activity.
    Participants generally reported few signs of psychological distress. They reported low levels of identity distress, but sometimes specific identity issues were rated higher. Most participants also reported normative levels of psychological symptoms at both interview occasions (within one standard division of the Swedish norm mean value for the SCL-90), with a tendency toward less severe symptoms than normative at age 29.

    Conclusion
    This study furthers the understanding of the dark side of identity development by showing how experiences of identity diffusion may change across time. Although no participants reported severe levels of psychological distress, qualitative analyses showed a general trend among participants to keep commitments on hold through decreased activity or increased haphazard activity in relation to changing life conditions, to make little new meaning, and in some cases to dissolve their personal life direction. Thus, this in-depth investigation of long-term identity diffusion suggests that individuals who appear ‘carefree diffused’ (e.g., Luyckx et al., 2005), in terms of psychological distress, may still become increasingly disengaged with time.

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  • January 2016

    Looking at the Dark and Bright Sides of Identity Formation: New Insights from Adolescents and Emerging Adults in Japan

    Kai Hatano

    by Kai Hatano (Osaka Prefecture University, Japan)
    Kazumi Sugimura (Hiroshima University, Japan) &
    Elisabetta Crocetti (Utrecht University, the Netherlands)

    Background
    Meeus, Crocetti, and colleagues proposed a process identity model that comprises three identity dimensions, namely, commitment, in-depth exploration, and reconsideration of commitment. This model was validated across a variety of cross-cultural samples, as well as across gender, age, and ethnic groups from the same cultural context. In addition, each of the three identity processes was found to be associated with a specific set of personality traits (i.e., Big Five) and psychosocial problems (i.e., internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors). Furthermore, this model can be used to classify individuals into five identity statuses (i.e., achievement, foreclosure, moratorium, diffusion, and searching moratorium), by means of empirically based methods of classification. However, previous studies have mostly been done with young people in North American and European nations, and it is not entirely clear whether these findings are consistent across different national contexts, particularly in Eastern countries. Among youth in Eastern countries, Japanese youth reveal some remarkable and unique features with respect to the transition to adulthood (e.g., the length period of education, the timing of marriage, and parenthood). In order to improve the understandings of identity formation in adolescence and emerging adulthood, we examined the association of the identity statuses with personality traits and psychosocial problems in Japanese adolescents and emerging adults. For this purpose, we first established the factorial validation of Japanese version of the U-MICS. Second, we examined the associations between identity dimensions and personality traits and psychosocial problems to test convergent validity of the U-MICS. Third, to address the main study goal, we empirically assigned participants to the identity clusters, and we compared age distributions across the five identity statuses and examined the profile of each status in adolescence and emerging adulthood.
    We hypothesized that the fit indices of three-factor model would be better than one- or two- factor model across age and gender groups, and commitment and in depth exploration would be positively associated with adaptive personality traits; on the other hand, reconsideration of commitment would be negatively associated with adaptive personality traits and positively associated with psychosocial problems (hypothesis 1). We also hypothesized that five identity clusters were expected to be extracted in Japan, and the percentage of participants in the moratorium status would be high in both age groups (hypothesis 2). Finally, we hypothesized that the high commitment statuses (i.e., achievement and foreclosure) would score high on adaptive personality traits, and low on neuroticism and psychosocial problems; on the other hand, low commitment statuses (i.e., moratorium and diffusion) would show the opposite results, and the searching moratorium status would score high on adaptive personality traits, and low on neuroticism and internalizing problem behaviors; specifically, the emerging adults in this status would score higher on externalizing problem behaviors than the other four traditional identity statuses (hypothesis 3).

    Method
    Participants were 1,233 thirteen and sixteen-year-olds adolescents (51.2% females), and 618 nineteen-year-olds emerging adults (69.9% females). In addition, we included adolescents’ parents (N = 1,233; 51.6% females) to measure internalizing and externalizing problem behaviors of their children.

    Results
    The results of confirmatory factor analysis indicated that the U-MICS three-factor model fit the data significantly better than the one- and the two-factor models, and the results of measurement invariance tests demonstrated the establishment of measurement equivalence across gender and age groups. Moreover, the three identity dimensions were meaningfully associated with personality traits and psychosocial problems. These results supported our hypothesis 1. In addition, five identity statuses found in European samples were also extracted in the Japanese sample by means of cluster analysis, and the results of chi-square tests indicated that adolescents were more likely to be classified into the foreclosure, moratorium, or diffusion clusters than emerging adults, whereas emerging adults were more strongly represented in the achievement and searching moratorium clusters. These results were consistent with our hypothesis 2. Furthermore, the results of MANOVAs showed that participants in the identity statuses with high commitment (i.e., achievement and foreclosure) had high adaptive personality traits and few psychosocial problems; on the other hand, those in the identity statuses with low commitment (i.e., moratorium and diffusion) displayed the opposite features in both age groups. With respect to the searching moratorium status, adolescents in this status scored high on adaptive personality traits and low on internalizing problem behaviors, whereas emerging adults in the same status scored high on extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness, but also high on externalizing problem behaviors. These results supported our hypothesis 3.

    Conclusion
    Our results suggest that the three-factor model can be applied to study identity formation in Japanese adolescents and emerging adults. Moreover, not only moratorium and diffusion but also the searching moratorium status point to a dark-side of identity formation. This was particularly evident in the emerging adults group, suggesting that the meaning of searching moratorium differs across age groups. These differences were interpreted in relation to the postponement of adolescence in Japan and the clinical implications for adolescents and emerging adults were discussed.

  • November 2015

    Childhood Predictors and Adult Life Success of Adolescent Delinquency Abstainers

    Natalie Mercer

    by Natalie Mercer, David Farrington, Maria Ttofi, Loes Keijsers, Susan Branje and Wim Meeus
    Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

    Background & Hypotheses
    Research suggests that between 6-25% of adolescents abstain from delinquency (e.g., Barnes, Beaver, & Piquero, 2011; Chen & Adams, 2010; Moffitt, Caspi, Harrington & Milne, 2002). Understanding how or why some adolescents abstain from delinquency is helpful for understanding and preventing adolescent (minor) delinquency. Additionally, studying how or why some adolescents abstain may be most informative when abstainers are compared to different types of delinquent adolescents.
    With this in mind, our study aimed to test three hypotheses regarding the nature of adolescent delinquency abstention: First, the linear hypothesis expected that the factors that predict adolescent delinquency abstention would be the inverse of factors known to predict serious delinquency. For example, if poor parent-child relationships predicted delinquency, the most serious delinquents would have the poorest parent-child relationships and abstainers would have the strongest parent child relationships, with the majority of adolescents falling somewhere in between abstainers and serious delinquents. Alternatively, the discrete group hypothesis expected that abstention would be the result of unique factors unrelated to the distinction between different groups of delinquents. For example, abstainers may be shy adolescents, socially withdrawn and excluded from their peer groups, whereas we have no such expectations for these characteristics to distinguish between who will be a serious delinquent compared to the majority of adolescents who experiment with delinquency and rule-breaking. Finally, we tested a third two-group hypothesis that the linear and discrete hypotheses may actually represent two different groups of abstainers.

    Method
    This study made use of longitudinal, multi-informant data spanning from age 8 to age 48 from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development (100% male) to compare adolescent abstainers (n = 49), self-report delinquents (n = 239) and convicted delinquents (n = 117). First, we tested our linear and discrete hypotheses using binary logistic regressions to examine which individual and environmental childhood factors (ages 8-10) would predict adolescent delinquency abstention (ages 10-18) from self-reported delinquency. We also examined which childhood factors would predict convicted delinquency from self-reported delinquency. Second, to test our two-group hypothesis, we conducted a latent class analysis on the significant childhood predictors of abstention.

    Results
    We found that there were five predictors of adolescent delinquency abstention. Consistent with the linear hypothesis, adolescent abstainers reported characteristics opposite to those of convicted delinquents (namely, abstainers were high on honesty, conformity and family income). However, unexpectedly, we also found that abstainers also shared some childhood characteristics with convicted delinquents (namely, low popularity and low school achievement). Consistent with our two-group hypothesis, a latent class analysis indicated that the mixed factors predicting abstention can be accounted for by two groups of abstainers: an adaptive group (n = 27) characterized by high honesty and a maladaptive group (n = 22) characterized by low popularity and low school achievement. To validate these two groups, we examined potential differences on adult outcomes. We found that at age 48, adaptive abstainers outperformed all other adolescents in general life success, as indicated by the obtainment of major developmental tasks (e.g., having satisfactory employment, accommodation, intimate relationship), whereas maladaptive abstainers only fared better than delinquent adolescents in terms of substance use and self-reported delinquency.

    Conclusion
    The results of this study question the validity of generalization from single behavioral outcomes (i.e., delinquent versus non-delinquent) to general development (i.e., unhealthy versus healthy). Overall, results suggest that abstainers can be either conformists with protective factors or adolescents who may be excluded from delinquent behavior due to impairments (i.e., social or cognitive) that require further attention.

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  • October 2015

    The temporal structure of state self-esteem variability during parent–adolescent interactions: more than random fluctuations

    Naomi de Ruiter

    By: Naomi de Ruiter, Ruud den Hartigh, Ralf Cox, Paul van Geert, & Saskia Kunnen
    University of Groningen, The Netherlands

    Background
    Self-esteem is conceptualized as having both a trait element (characterized as relatively stable and predictable across time), as well as a state element (characterized by fluctuations from moment to moment and a high level of variability) (Donnellan, Kenny, Trzesniewski, Lucas, & Conger, 2012). While the number of theoretical and empirical studies focusing on state self-esteem is increasingly growing, these studies tend to focus on the magnitude of state self-esteem variability (e.g., Leary & Downs, 1995). To date, very little theoretical or empirical research has been done concerning the nature of the moment-to-moment fluctuations that occur in state self-esteem, which we refer to as the temporal structure of state self-esteem variability.
    The common conceptualization of state self-esteem stems from the notion that state self-esteem is the “barometric” element of self-esteem, which is variable across time and contexts and fluctuates around the relatively stable “baseline” level of self-esteem (Rosenberg, 1986a). State self-esteem is therefore approached as the “error” around (and independent from) – what is thought to be – a more meaningful baseline level that is trait self-esteem, where the “error” is contextually-based error. Following this basic theory, state self-esteem represents a short-lived experience, which – given the absence of a new contextual cue – will return back to the baseline level (Alessandri & Caprara, 2012). Given this conceptualization, the variability of state self-esteem should resemble white noise (Diniz et al., 2011; Gilden, 2001; Stadnitski, 2012; Van Orden, Holden, & Turvey, 2003, 2005), which is temporally random variability that is created when there is no carry-over effect from one state to the next.
    We question the assumption that state self-esteem variability is purely a function of exogenous events, as well as the assumption that the temporal structure of the resulting variability is random (i.e., white noise). We examine this in the developmental context of adolescence, as a pivotal period for self-esteem development. Alternatively, we posit that each state self-esteem event is in itself a process, and that this process interacts with neighboring (i.e., future) state self-esteem processes. These dynamics are defined as interaction-dominant dynamics, where the coordination of the process at large is a function of the internal dynamics, which occur within a context, but which are not a function of the context alone (Van Orden et al., 2003). From this conceptualization, state self-esteem exhibits both short-term and long-term carry-over effects. We suggest, therefore, that state self-esteem is a self-coordinating process, rather than a passively reactive (i.e., stimulus-response like) and random process. Many human processes that have recently been conceptualized as depending on interaction-dominant dynamics have been found to exhibit pink noise, which is structured variability characterized by correlated activity across many time scales (Van Orden et al., 2003; Wijnants, Cox, Hasselman, Bosman & Van Orden, 2012). Moreover, the presence of pink noise is indicative of normative developmental processes, as its presence is exclusively found in healthy and well-coordinated systems (Herman, Giladi, Gurevich, & Hausdorff, 2005; Wijnants, Hasselman, Cox, Bosman, & Van Orden, 2012).

    Design and Research Questions
    We adopted a qualitative phenomenological approach to state self-esteem across real time, where adolescents’ (N = 13) positive and negative emotional and behavioral self-experiences that are expressed during interaction with their parent are observed and coded from moment-to-moment. Adolescent-parent dyads were video-recorded in their home environment during a semi-naturalistic interaction, including a neutral-conflict-neutral discussion, consecutively.
    The observational videos were subsequently coded. Adolescents’ emotional and behavioural expressions of state self-esteem were coded for every action or utterance. State self-esteem was calculated based on the self-esteem related emotions/behaviour for each second of the interaction, resulting in a state self-esteem time series for every adolescent. Furthermore, static and context-independent levels of autonomy were gathered by means of a questionnaire administered before the filmed interaction took place; and static and context-dependent measures of state self-esteem and trait self-esteem were gathered before and after the filmed-interaction took place.
    Detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA; Peng, Havlin, Stanley, & Goldberger, 1995) was applied to each state self-esteem time series. The DFA reveals a relation between different window sizes of data and the average fluctuation of the windowed data. The DFA produces a DFA exponent, which indicates whether the structure of variability resembles white noise (i.e., a highly random structure) or pink noise (i.e., long-range correlations; Hasselman, 2013; Wijnants et al., 2012). The DFA exponents of the time series were then compared to randomized surrogate time series (i.e. shuffled within-individuals) that functioned as a control group.
    We hypothesized that the temporal structure of state self-esteem variability would be structured, rather than random, thereby resulting in long-range correlations as indicated by the presence of pink noise (Hypothesis 1). We also hypothesized that the temporal structure of state self-esteem would be a distinct concept from the level of self-esteem, such that there are no significant correlations between the temporal structure of state self-esteem (i.e. the DFA exponent) and the static measures of self-esteem levels (hypothesis 2). Finally, we hypothesized that the presence of pink noise would correspond with an indicator of healthy adolescent development, i.e. static and context-independent autonomy levels (hypothesis 3).

    Results
    We found that the variability of adolescents’ state self-esteem during a parent-child interaction can be characterized by ‘pink noise’, and that the structure of state self-esteem variability is significantly different from the structure of variability that would be exhibited if state self-esteem was characterized by random fluctuations with no carry-over effect from one moment to the next, i.e., white noise (hypothesis 1). In addition, we found that the temporal structure of state self-esteem is a distinct concept from the valence level of (state and trait) self-esteem (hypothesis 2), and that the closer that state self-esteem came to approaching pure pink noise, the higher the adolescents’ scores for autonomy (hypothesis 3).

    Conclusion
    These results show that the temporal structure of adolescent state self-esteem variability has been unnecessarily disregarded (as ‘random’) in empirical studies of state self-esteem. Our results bring the passive and random nature of state self-esteem into question, and provide evidence that state self-esteem, as a real-time process, might be better conceptualized as an intrinsically dynamic and active process. This is an important shift in the theoretical conceptualization of the nature of state self-esteem. Moreover, these results indicate that this type of state self-esteem structure is a signature of healthy, efficient, and well-coordinated behavior during parent-child interactions.

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  • August & September 2015

    Comparing Correlates of Civic Engagement Between Immigrant and Majority Youth in Belgium, Germany, and Turkey

    Katharina Eckstein

    By: Katharina Eckstein, University of Jena, Germany
    Philipp Jugert, University of Leipzig, Germany
    Peter Noack, University of Jena, Germany
    Michel Born, University of Liège, Belgium
    Tulin Sener, Ankara University, Turkey

    Background
    Participation in civic life is an important developmental task in youth. So far, however, it still remains a largely unanswered question in how far predictors of civic engagement differ between immigrant and majority youth. This question is of particular importance as immigrants’ civic participation is not only an indicator of successful integration into their host society, but also a fundamental pillar of a democratic society.
    One prominent theoretical approach that allows for a thorough investigation of factors underlying civic participation was introduced by the civic voluntarism model (Verba, Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). According to the civic voluntarism model, three main factors underlie civic behaviors: Resources (e.g., education, money), social networks (e.g., being involved in voluntary associations), and psychological engagement (e.g., political efficacy).
    Previous research suggests that people from ethnic minority and majority groups may be motivated to engage civically for different reasons. Yet, as most research has focused on US samples, there is need for a more contextualized understanding of the predictors of civic engagement in other cultural groups and countries. Drawing on data from a large-scale, pan-European project, this study aims to narrow these gaps in the literature.

    Design and Research Questions
    Our research was based on adolescents and young adults from Belgium (N = 483), Germany (N = 648), and Turkey (N = 495). We chose these three countries deliberately because they all include Turkish immigrants as minority group (i.e., the immigrant group in Turkey was made up of ethnic Turks who repatriated from Bulgaria). This provides for the unique opportunity to examine whether differences between majority and immigrant youth are due to ethnic-cultural reasons (e.g., properties of a certain cultural group) or due to migration-specific factors (e.g., experiences that all immigrants have in common).
    We first examined whether there are differences in mean levels of engagement by ethnic background (Research Question 1). We then examined whether predictors of civic engagement differed by ethnic background (Research Question 2). Using the theoretical framework of the civic voluntarism model, we assessed the effects of resources, social networks, and psychological engagement (i.e., internal political efficacy).

    Results
    Contrary to our expectations, young immigrants were more civically engaged than their majority peers in all three countries. Since this pattern remained the same when background variables were taken into account, it is unlikely that this finding can be exclusively attributed to demographic differences between the groups (e.g., in age, gender, or SES).
    We then examined whether predictors of civic engagement differed according to ethnic background. Multi-group structural equation modeling indicated that being involved in social networks was more important for immigrant than for majority youth. Internal political efficacy beliefs, in turn, were only found to be a significant predictor of civic engagement among majority youth. We found this pattern in all three countries which indicates that it was caused by experiences that all immigrant groups had in common (i.e., migration-specific experiences).
    Concerning the effects of resources (educational level & parental SES), contrary to the assumptions of the civic voluntarism model and prior empirical findings, only few effects reached statistical significance.

    Conclusion
    Overall, the civic voluntarism model has shown to be a useful framework to better understand the factors that promote youth civic involvement. At the same time, our findings indicate possible group differences (e.g., by ethnic background) that need to be taken into account. These theoretical considerations also have an impact on the practical implications of our results. After all, democracies require the support of all citizens, regardless of their ethnic, cultural, or social backgrounds. The measures to promote civic behaviors therefore need to be more differentiated. Instead of applying a uniform approach, interventions to encourage youth civic engagement should be tailored to specific groups’ characteristics. As our results indicate networks of social support are of particular importance for young immigrants, while majority youth might also benefit from approaches that strengthen confidence in their political abilities.

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  • June & July 2015

    Developmental Trajectories and Reciprocal Associations between Career Adaptability and Vocational Identity: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Study with Adolescents

    Oana Negru-Subtirica

    By: Oana Negru-Subtirica, Lecturer at Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
    Eleonora Ioana Pop, Ph.D. Student at Babes-Bolyai University, Romania
    Elisabetta Crocetti, Researcher at the Utrecht University, the Netherlands

    The vocational domain represents a key component of adolescent development, with career adaptability and vocational identity standing as pillars in the facilitation of vocational decision-making (Savickas, 2005; Skorikov & Vondracek, 2011). More longitudinal research is needed for an in-depth understanding of how these dimensions evolve in adolescence and how they are related to each other across time. Existing literature brought forward the need to analyze career adaptability and vocational identity in more detail, as both are multi-dimensional constructs (Hartung, Porfeli, & Vondracek, 2005; Savickas, 1997, 2005). Therefore, we conducted a three-wave longitudinal study that investigated intra- and inter- individual changes in and reciprocal associations between adolescent career adaptability and vocational identity, during the course of one academic year.

    Our study used data from the ongoing longitudinal study Transylvania Adolescent Identity Development Study (TRAIDES). A total of 1,151 adolescents (58.7% females) participated in the study, of which 40.1% were early-to-middle adolescents (age range 13-15 years) and 59.9% were middle-to-late adolescents (age range 16-19 years). Mean age was 16.45 years (SDage = 1.40; range = 13-19 years). We tapped into career adaptability through the four career adapt-abilities (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012a). Vocational identity was unpacked into six dimensions referring to specific commitment, exploration, and reconsideration of commitment facets (Porfeli et al., 2011). Hence, for this construct we analyzed for the first time from a longitudinal standpoint the dynamics of reconsideration of vocational commitments.

    Findings showed significant longitudinal changes in career adaptability dimensions and identity processes, partly moderated by adolescents’ gender, the type of school they attended, and their age. We depicted multiple longitudinal associations between career adaptability dimensions and vocational identity processes, which were independent of adolescents’ gender, type of school, and age-group. Our study brought numerous additions to a growing literature on adolescent vocational development. In line with existing evidence (Hartung, at al., 2005), we pointed out that the vocational domain is an important life domain for adolescents, as in one academic year students were involved in significant adaptability and identity work. Hence, from a theoretical perspective, we brought additional information on how these two core vocational development dimensions fluctuate in a time-frame that is quite normative for adolescents: a school year. It seems that the “high hopes” (high levels in career adapt-abilities, high levels in the vocational commitment evaluation cycle) that students had at the beginning of the school year became more moderate as time passed. Also, they pondered more on their current vocational commitments (i.e., increases in reconsideration of vocational commitments). From an applied perspective, our findings can aid educational interventions aimed at fostering vocational and academic achievement. Namely, we highlighted the dimensions that were more “vulnerable” to slight decreases or increases across the school year. These dimensions can be included in classroom-based interventions aimed at strengthening career adaptability and/or vocational identity.

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  • May 2015

    A Reliability Generalization Study for a Multidimensional Loneliness Scale: The Loneliness and Aloneness Scale for Children and Adolescents

    Marlies Maes

    By: Marlies Maes, PhD Student, School Psychology and Child and Adolescent Development, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Wim Van den Noortgate, Professor, Methodology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven, Belgium
    Luc Goossens, Professor, School Psychology and Child and Adolescent Development, KU Leuven, Belgium

    The reliability of an instrument’s test scores is important to examine and may vary across studies that administered the test with a certain protocol to certain participants on certain occasions (Thompson, 1992). However, to gain some insight in the degree of reliability that can be expected for a given instrument, a Reliability Generalization (RG; Vacha-Haase, 1998) study can be conducted. Using the meta-analytic RG methodology, researchers can examine the range of reliability scores of a particular instrument that have appeared in the literature, can compute an estimated mean reliability, and can examine whether characteristics of the instrument itself, the study, or the context of administration explains variation in the observed reliability scores. A high mean reliability score with low variability across studies would considerably increase our confidence in that particular instrument.

    In the present study, we focused on loneliness, which is the unpleasant feeling that occurs when a discrepancy is perceived between the actual and desired levels of the quantity or quality of one’s relationships (Perlman & Peplau, 1981). More specifically, we focused on a multidimensional loneliness measure that distinguishes between loneliness in relationships with peers and with parents. The Loneliness and Aloneness scale for Children and Adolescents (LACA; Marcoen, Goossens, & Caes, 1987) is a 48-item scale intended for use in the age range of 10 to 19 years. In addition to measuring the two relation-specific types of loneliness, the LACA assesses a person’s attitudes towards aloneness, including aversion to being alone and affinity for being alone.

    The analyses are based on 79 studies from 1987 to 2014, reporting Cronbach’s alphas for 92 samples (k). As the scale has been developed in Belgium, most studies (k = 65) came from this country, though data from 10 other countries (including Argentina, Canada, China, Greece, Spain, and The Netherlands) could also be included. In all, data from 41,076 children (k = 35) and adolescents (k = 57) were incorporated.

    To account for dependency, as several studies included more than one sample and reported on more than one reliability estimate, we conducted a multilevel meta-analysis (Van den Noortgate & Onghena, 2003). Results showed high estimated mean reliabilities (i.e., alphas of .80 or above), with minimal variability (i.e., SDs around .05) for the four subscales of the LACA. In the final model, few of the potential moderators selected proved to be significant predictors of the variation in reliability scores. For parent-related loneliness, samples with higher sampling quality tended to yield higher Cronbach’s alphas. In addition, alphas for three of the four LACA subscales were somewhat lower in adolescents as compared to children.

    It is important to realize that the results of the RG work cannot be generalized beyond the kind of samples used in the analyses. More demanding challenges to the instrument under scrutiny should be applied by including groups that can be expected to have lower alphas, such as particular clinical groups or immigrant youth. Pending such future work, the present study seems to support the use of the multidimensional LACA in children and adolescents sampled from the general population.

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  • April 2015

    Loneliness, Affect, and Adolescents’ Appraisals of Company: An Experience Sampling Method Study

    Eeske van Roeckel

    By: Eeske van Roeckel, Luc Goossens, Maaike Verhagen, Sofie Wouters, Rutger C. M. E. Engels
    & Ron H. J. Scholte
    University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands

    Loneliness is defined as the negative emotions that arise when a discrepancy is experienced between the desired and actual quantity or quality of social relationships (Perlman & Peplau, 1981). Chronic levels of loneliness can have severe health consequences and are found to increase chances of mortality by as much as 50% (Holt-Lunstad, Smith, & Layton, 2010). Loneliness has been found to be particularly present in adolescents, likely because adolescence is a period in which the transition to high school takes place, peers become increasingly important, and adolescents grow to have greater expectations of their social relationships (Parkhurst & Hopmeyer, 1999), which may not always be fulfilled. Considering both the serious consequences of loneliness and the high prevalence in early adolescence, it is important to examine factors that can predict or maintain loneliness in adolescence specifically. The main aim of the present study was to test two characteristics of a socio-cognitive model of loneliness (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2009) in the daily lives of early adolescents: (a) hypersensitivity to social threat and (b) hyposensitivity to social reward.

    Data were collected among 278 early adolescents (Mage = 14.19, 59% female) by using the Experience Sampling Method. The sampling period consisted of 6 days, with 9 assessments per day at random time points. Multilevel analyses were conducted to examine whether loneliness moderated the relation between negative perceptions of company and positive and negative affect (i.e., hypersensitivity to social threat) and positive perceptions of company and affect (i.e., hyposensitivity to social reward).

    Support was found for hypersensitivity to social threat, in that adolescents with higher levels of baseline loneliness were more negatively affected by negative perceptions of company. For the hyposensitivity to social reward, results were in contrast with our expectations: adolescents high in loneliness were more positively affected by positive perceptions of company than adolescents low in loneliness. Hence, our findings were indicative of hypersensitivity to both negative and positive environments.

    A possible explanation for the difference in findings between the present study and the socio-cognitive model may be that the hyposensitivity to reward comes into play when individuals are chronically lonely or have severe levels of loneliness, which was the case in the study that found support for hyposensitivity (Cacioppo et al., 2009). Our findings are based on a continuous loneliness measure, which does not provide any information about the chronicity of loneliness. This could indicate that transient loneliness levels may serve as a motivational state that encourages people to restore their social relationships, which in turn leads to heightened sensitivity to both positive and negative social environments.

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  • March 2015

    Are Adolescents’ Mutually Hostile Interactions at Home Reproduced in Other Everyday Life Contexts?

    Tatiana Alina Trifan

    By: Tatiana Alina Trifan, PhD Student, Center for Developmental Research, Örebro University, Sweden
    Håkan Stattin, Professor, Center for Developmental Research, Örebro University, Sweden

    One of the central issues in parenting research concerns what children bring with them from the family to other interpersonal contexts. In most families, children learn to respect others and live in harmony, which are the skills they take with them elsewhere. In some families, however, interactions are not harmonious, but are characterized by mutual or reciprocated hostility. Extreme examples are the coercive cycles described by Patterson (1982), the association between parents’ low perceived power and their proneness to harshness when faced with a difficult child (Bugental, Lewis, Lin, Lyon, & Hopeikin, 1999), and the intimate connection in abusing families between children’s overt opposition and parents’ readiness to use severe punishment rather than reason (Trickett & Kuczynski, 1986). Some research has focused on what these kinds of parent-child interactions mean for children’s behaviors towards others at school and in other contexts, but little is known about the possible connections between mutually hostile parent-child interactions and mutually hostile interactions in other interpersonal contexts. Are these interaction patterns transferred from home to other settings?

    In our study, we examined the extent to which individual configurations of exposing others to hostility and being exposed to hostility by others are transferred from the family to other everyday life contexts. We used hostility as a broad term to encompass verbal and physical aggression, defiance, and unfriendly behavior. We focused on adolescents, because adolescents spend much of their time in several interpersonal settings on a daily basis, which gives us an opportunity to compare patterns of behavior at home with those at school and in free-time. In order to study mutually hostile interactions, we differentiated them from interactions in which the person is only the target of others’ hostility or only the perpetrator of hostility towards others, in each of the studied contexts. We first examined whether there are naturally occurring groups of adolescents who are engaged in mutually hostile interactions with their parents, and in other everyday life contexts – school, and free-time. Second, we examined whether the adolescents involved in mutually hostile interactions at home were the same adolescents who exposed others and were exposed to others’ hostility in the other contexts. We also examined whether being involved in mutually hostile interactions at home increases the likelihood of being involved in mutual hostility in the other contexts one year later.

    In line with our hypotheses, we found profiles of adolescents who both exposed others and were exposed by others to hostility in each of the interpersonal contexts we analyzed (at home, at school, with peers and teachers, and in free-time). Cross-sectional analyses showed that the adolescents involved in mutually hostile interactions at home tended to be the ones who were involved in mutually hostile interactions with school peers, with teachers, and in free-time. Also, longitudinal analyses showed that the adolescents involved in mutually hostile interactions at home were more likely to be involved in mutually hostile interactions with peers at school and in free-time one year later, compared with adolescents not involved in mutual hostility. In agreement with our hypotheses, for the main contexts these high-conflict youths had greater impulsivity and anger dysregulation than their exposed-only counterparts across all the interpersonal contexts we considered. This study extends previous knowledge of mutually hostile interactions by showing that these patterns of mutual hostility are not specific to the home alone. They can be transmitted from the home to other interpersonal contexts.

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  • February 2015

    A Person-Centred Analysis of the Time Use, Daily Activities, and Health-Related Quality of Life of Irish School-Going Late Adolescents

    Eithne Hunt

    By: Eithne Hunt, E.A. McKay, D. Dahly, A.P. Fitzgerald, & I.J. Perry

    Background
    In the last 50 years, the health of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents has improved to a lesser extent than that of younger children (Sawyer et al., 2012). In fact, worsening mental health outcomes have been noted in Ireland (Cannon, Coughlan, Clarke, Harley, & Kelleher, 2013; UNICEF Ireland, 2011) and internationally (Becker & Kleinman, 2013; Gore et al., 2011; Koh, Blakey, & Roper, 2014; Patel, Flischer, Hetrick, & McGorry, 2007). Moreover, the daily lived experience of young people internationally confronts them with “more complex worlds, with more contractions and challenges” than before (Larson & Tran, 2014, p. 1013). Against this backdrop, recent policies call for increased attention to non-communicable causes of disease burden and lifestyle risk factors in adolescence (Gore et al., 2011), not least because important determinants of health and well-being are imbedded in young people’s daily behavior, as reflected in their time-use (Olds, Ferrar, Gomersall, Maher, & Walters, 2012; Zuzanek, 2005). Indeed, how one lives out one’s daily life is closely connected with health and quality of life (Erlandsson, 2013a; Harvey, 1993; Hocking, 2013). It is argued that “much of today’s ill-health is developed and caused by people’s doing; their lifestyle” (Hocking et al., 2014, p. 41). Given this, the promotion of healthy lifestyles amongst adolescents is now particularly important (Hagell, Coleman & Brooks, 2013; The Lancet 2012) to prevent the accelerating burden of non-communicable diseases in adulthood (Viner, 2013). To that end, research is needed on how “the quantities and qualities of experiences in different activities act in combination” (Larson, 2001, p. 163) to affect adolescent development, health, well-being and quality of life.

    Aim
    This cross-sectional study sought to establish whether distinct profiles of adolescent 24-hour time use exist and to examine the relationship of any identified profiles to self-reported HRQoL.

    Method
    Two 24-hour time diaries and the KIDSCREEN-52 (Ravens-Sieberer et al., 2005) were completed by a random sample of 731 adolescents (response rate 52%) from 28 schools (response rate 76%) across Cork city and county, Ireland. We used a model-based, person-centred approach, latent profile analysis, to examine adolescent 24-hour time use and relate the identified profiles to HRQoL as a distal outcome.

    Results
    Three male profiles emerged, namely productive, high leisure and all-rounder. Two female profiles, higher study/lower leisure and moderate study/higher leisure, were identified. The quantitative and qualitative differences in male and female profiles support the gendered nature of adolescent time use. No identifiable unifying trends emerged in the analysis of probable responses in the HRQoL domains across profiles, reinforcing the complex nature of HRQoL for this group of young people. Females in the moderate study/higher leisure group were twice as likely to have above average global HRQoL.
    Conclusion: Distinct time use profiles can be identified among adolescents but their relationship with HRQoL is complex. As eminent adolescent developmental psychologist Reed Larson (2001) wrote, the “evaluation of [adolescents’] time allocation is a useful entry point for examining links between experience and development, but only one small piece of a much more complex inquiry” (p. 163). Moreover, it has been said that youth development is “not readily reducible to variables” (Larson & Tran, 2014, p. 1014). Increasingly, scholars are calling for a mix of variable-centred, person-centred and qualitative research (Agans et al., 2014; Hamilton, 2014; Masten, 2014) to create a more complete picture of the many systems that comprise the complex “disorderly world” (Larson, 2011, p. 317) of today’s adolescents. Equally, rich mixed-method research is required to illuminate our understanding of the time use and HRQoL of adolescents in the 21st century.

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  • January 2015

    Self-Concept Clarity Across Adolescence: Longitudinal Associations With Open Communication With Parents and Internalizing Symptoms

    Marloes van Dijk

    By: Marloes van Dijk, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Susan Branje, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Loes Keijsers, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Skyler T. Hawk, Chinese University of Hong Kong
    William W. Hale III, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Wim Meeus, Utrecht University and at Tilburg University, The Netherlands

    In adolescence, the development of the self is an important task (Erikson, 1963; Marcia, 1966; Meeus, Van de Schoot, Keijsers, Schwartz, & Branje, 2010). An essential aspect of the self is self-concept clarity (SCC; Bigler et al., 2001; Schwartz et al., 2010), the extent to which beliefs about the self are clearly and confidently defined, stable over time, and internally consistent (Campbell et al., 1996). In other words, SCC refers to the structure of the self-concept, and not to the content of the self-concept. The current longitudinal study investigated whether a more clear self-concept in adolescence may be predicted by higher levels of open communication with parents and lower levels of internalizing problems (i.e., depressive and anxiety symptoms), and whether a less clear self-concept may predict higher levels of depression and anxiety.

    Talking about the self and one’s life is thought to enhance self-understanding by forming links between elements of one’s life and the self (Habermas & Bluck, 2000; McLean, Pasupathi, & Pals, 2007). Therefore, SCC might be promoted by open communication between adolescents and parents, in which parents are supportive of the adolescent’s viewpoints and are active listeners (McLean et al., 2007). Moreover, problems with SCC development could enhance depression and anxiety. Periods of heightened self-reflection in the development of SCC may go together with temporary declines in self-esteem and more internalizing problems because youths are struggling with problematic issues (Bell, Wieling, & Watson, 2004; Panayiotou & Kokkinos, 2006). Conversely, higher anxiety relates to more uncertainty and has been identified as a risk factor for identity development (Crocetti, Klimstra, Keijsers, Hale, & Meeus, 2009), so may predict lower SCC. Similar linkages could be expected for depressive symptoms.

    Dutch youths reported on open communication, SCC, depressive and anxiety symptoms every year, from on average age 13 until 16 years old. As was expected, concurrent positive links were consistently found between open communication and SCC, and negative links between SCC and both depressive and anxiety symptoms. In middle adolescence, higher levels of open communication with parents preceded higher SCC. Lower SCC preceded higher levels of depression across all waves, and higher anxiety levels from age 13 to age 14. Conversely, higher anxiety levels predicted lower SCC between age 13 and 15. SCC did not mediate the longitudinal associations between open communication and internalizing symptoms.

    This study is one of the first to investigate SCC across adolescence. It highlights the possible importance of both anxiety and communication with parents in understanding the development of a clear self-concept, and demonstrates an association between lower SCC and higher levels of later depressive and anxiety symptoms.

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  • November 2014

    Collective Identity and Well-Being of Bulgarian Roma Adolescents and Their Mothers

    Radosveta Dimitrova

    By: Radosveta Dimitrova, Stockholm University, Sweden
    Athanasios Chasiotis, Tilburg University, the Netherlands
    Michael Bender, Tilburg University, the Netherlands
    Fons J. R. van de Vijver, Tilburg University, the Netherlands, North-West University, South Africa and The University of Queensland, Australia

    In Europe and specifically in Bulgaria, Roma represent the largest and most disadvantaged ethnic minority historically exposed to severe discrimination, social exclusion and poverty. Therefore, identifying sources of psychological well-being for Roma is theoretically relevant and practically important.

    We examined collective identity resources encompassing ethnic, familial, and religious identities among Roma adolescents and their mothers in Bulgaria. Ethnic identity refers to maintenance of positive attitudes and feelings that accompany a sense of group belonging (Erikson 1968; Ghavami et al. 2011; Phinney, 1989). Familial identity concerns the degree of identification with the familial group and commitment to the family and family relationships (Arends-Tóth and Van de Vijver 2008; Steidel and Contreras 2003). Religious identity reflects the salience of religious convictions for individual identity and self-concept (Furrow et al. 2004). Ethnic, religious and familial identities are important sources of strength for youth and their relatedness has been widely documented, specifically in indigenous minority groups (Kiang et al. 2008; Lopez et al. 2011).

    We also considered ways in which collective identity is protective for well-being of Roma adolescents and their mothers. In so doing, we examined relations between adolescents and their mothers because maternal ethnic socialization is shaping youths’ identity processes in ethnic minority and Roma contexts. Hence, intergenerational transmission is a major source of culture maintenance among ethnic minority groups.

    We found that 1) familial identity of both adolescents and mothers was stronger compared to their ethnic or religious identifications. Therefore, familial identity may protect individuals against the negative ethnic experiences that confront them in the Bulgarian society; 2) mothers’ ethnic, familial, and religious identities are positively associated with their children’s identifications and well-being; 3) there were significant relations of all collective identity components between mothers and children with the strongest relations among Roma and familial identities. This indicates that Roma mothers were particularly concerned with transmitting their commitment to the Roma culture as well as their family cohesion to their children.

    In conclusion, we were able to show intergenerational continuities of collective identity among Roma mothers and their offspring and that strong ethnic, familial, and religious identities of the Roma are particularly important for their well-being.

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  • October 2014

    Relationships Between Identity and Well-Being in Italian, Polish, and Romanian Emerging Adults

    Dominika Karas

    By: Dominika Karaś, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland
    Jan Cieciuch, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, Poland
    Oana Negru, Babeş-Bolyai University, Romania
    Elisabetta Crocetti, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

    Identity is one of a core developmental tasks in human life (Erikson, 1950). Thus, among many possible predictors of well-being, identity processes may hold the important position, especially in the time of emerging adulthood – the period characterized by instability, and feeling in-between adolescence and adulthood, but also a time of taking new roles, highly important for identity development.

    We adopted three-dimensional identity model proposed by Crocetti and colleagues (2008), where the three pivotal processes of identity are: commitment (the choice made in identity relevant domain, and the extent of identification with this choice), in-depth exploration (looking for new information about present commitments), and reconsideration of commitment (comparison between existing and other possible commitments, and efforts to change commitments, when they are not satisfactory for individual).

    In presented study, we aimed on examining the relationships between three identity processes and positive well-being in emerging adulthood. We compared the data from three different countries: Italy, Poland, and Romania, and we paid attention to youth from two different groups: university students and workers. Moreover, we examined two identity domains that are particularly important for young people: education and work.

    Our findings showed that identity processes are significantly related to positive well-being (including three aspects: emotional, psychological, and social). Committing into important life domains (such as education and work) and looking for new information about existing commitments was positively related to well-being, while reconsideration of commitment appeared to be troublesome aspect of identity formation, decreasing well-being.

    Moreover, the pattern of presented associations was consistent across national and occupational groups, however in student group the identity processes explained higher part of well-being variance. The results highlights the role of identity formation for experiencing well-being.

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  • July 2014

    Perspective Taking and Empathic Concern in Adolescence: Gender Differences in Developmental Changes

    Jolien van der Graaff

    By: Jolien Van der Graaff, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Susan Branje, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Minet De Wied, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
    Skyler Hawk, Chinese University of Hong Kong
    Pol Van Lier, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    Wim Meeus, Utrecht University and Tilburg University, The Netherlands

    Empathy, the ability to understand and to share another’s emotional state, is seen as a fundamental social skill. Empathy may, for instance, foster prosocial behavior (Eisenberg & Miller, 1987) and inhibit aggression towards others (Feshbach & Feshbach, 2009; Miller & Eisenberg, 1988). Although an important basis of empathy is already established in early childhood, several cognitive, relational, and physical changes that take place during adolescence might still impact adolescents’ tendency to empathize with others.

    In this study we longitudinally investigated the development of boys’ and girls’ tendency to take others’ perspectives (cognitive empathy) and to experience feelings of concern for others (affective empathy) longitudinally from age 13 to 18. We also addressed whether adolescents’ pubertal status was associated with this development.

    We found an incline in perspective taking for both boys and girls. This was in line with theories assuming that adolescents’ perspective taking skills increase, because of advances in the awareness of factors beyond the immediate situations that may affect others’ emotions (Hoffman, 2000), and advances in the ability to consider self and other perspectives simultaneously from a third person view increases (Selman, 1980). Interestingly, the developmental pattern was strikingly different between boys and girls. Girls showed a steeper increase in perspective taking than did boys. Moreover, whereas girls’ perspective taking particularly increased between age 13 and 15, for boys it did not increase until age 15, and even showed a slight dip before that age. Thus, gender differences in perspective taking especially increased between early- and mid-adolescence.

    With regard to empathic concern, theorists have proposed that adolescents’ growing perspective taking abilities also facilitate the development of empathic concern (Batson, 2009; Hoffman, 2000), and therefore increases in empathic concern across adolescence are expected. However, we found that girls’ levels of empathic concern remained stable, whereas for boys, empathic concern declined between ages 13 and 16, with a rebound to the initial level thereafter. Pubertal processes appeared to play a small role in this dip; boys who were physically more mature reported lower levels of empathic concern than did their physically less mature peers at ages 15 and 16. This may partly result from the increase in testosterone during pubertal maturation (Buchanan et al., 1992), which could induce an increase in competitive behavior (Mazur & Booth, 1998), thereby reducing empathy (Lanzetta & Englis, 1989). Further, boys who are physically more mature likely adhere more strongly to stereotypically masculine behavior, and might therefore be more inclined to inhibit empathic concern.

    In sum, this study extended the literature by empirically testing the longstanding assumption that both perspective taking and empathic concern increase during adolescence as a result of cognitive maturation. We found support for increases in perspective taking, but not empathic concern. Our study revealed striking differences in developmental patterns between boys and girls. Moreover, our findings with regard to empathic concern, raises the question whether adolescents’ changing motivations rather than their increasing cognitive abilities may affect this development.

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  • May 2014

    Impact of Early Adolescent Externalizing Problem Behaviors on Identity Development in Middle to Late Adolescence: A Prospective 7-year Longitudinal Study

    Elisabetta Crocetti

    By: Elisabetta Crocetti, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
    Theo Klimstra, Tilburg University, the Netherlands
    William W. Hale III, Utrecht University, the Netherlands
    Hans M. Koot, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    Wim Meeus, Utrecht University and at Tilburg University, the Netherlands

    Identity formation is the core developmental task of adolescence (Erikson, 1950, 1968). Since post-modern societies are seemingly characterized by increasing uncertainty, this task is particularly challenging because adolescents have to enact significant choices in multiple domains. Additionally, a number of factors can hamper adolescent identity formation. In particular, adolescents at a high-risk for problem behaviors may face more difficulties in defining a coherent and stable sense of identity.

    In this study, we focused on the potential detrimental role that externalizing problem behaviors (e.g., aggressive and delinquent behaviors) can have on identity development. In particular, we sought to shed light on identity paths of both boy and girl early adolescents with either a low-risk or high-risk for externalizing problem behaviors. The distinction of the low-risk and high-risk groups was based on teacher reports provided when the respondents were 11 or 12 years old. Then, youth were followed over the course of adolescence from 14 to 18 years old, with a five-wave longitudinal design with annual assessments, to monitor their identity development.

    Our results indicated that early adolescents who had been rated as a low-risk versus a high-risk for externalizing problem behaviors by their teachers reported significant differences in identity. Specifically, high-risk boys exhibited the most disorganized identity at age 14: they displayed a combination of low commitment, medium in-depth exploration, and high reconsideration of commitment. Furthermore, over the course of adolescence (ages 14-18) high-risk girls displayed a decrease in commitment, particularly sharp at the beginning of adolescence, which was combined with an increase in reconsideration that was the most pronounced toward the end of adolescence.

    Thus, this study highlighted that boys and girls with a high-risk of externalizing symptoms reported more difficulties in developing a firm sense of identity over middle to late adolescence. Because externalizing problems behaviors and an incoherent sense of identity might reinforce each other in a negative spiral, it seems necessary to intervene promptly on the high-risk adolescents in order to promote positive youth development.

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  • MARCH 2014

    Peer Networks and the Development of Illegal Political Activity Among Adolescents

    Viktor Dahl

    By: Viktor Dahl, Örebro University, Sweden
    Maarten van Zalk, Örebro University, Sweden

    Illegal political actions have always been a political influence repertoire of citizens in democratic societies. Although involvement in these activities is uncommon, the public and media space devoted to them is often large. Despite this, there is little knowledge of how illegal political behavior emerges among individuals.

    Using a social network approach, this study examined to what extent peer influence explains the development of illegal political behavior among adolescents. Because peer-adolescent similarities in illegal political behavior may not only be the result of influence processes, the current study controlled for a) adolescents’ tendencies to initiate peer relations with similar others (selection), b) influence from peers involved in legal political behavior, and c) gender.

    Our findings supported the idea that adolescents adopt illegal political behavior of peers already involved in these behaviors. This finding remained controlling for selection, legal political peer influences on political behavior, and gender. Consequently, the influences of peers involved in illegal activism seem partially to explain adolescents’ escalations in these behaviors. Nevertheless, adolescents did not seek out peers with similar dispositions for illegal political behavior. Accordingly, adolescents’ illegal political behavior seems the product of socialization rather than selection.

    One way to make theoretical sense of these findings is to turn to the pyramid model in the stage theory of radicalization (Moskalenko & McCauley, 2009). This theory states that a pyramid can illustrate the discrete levels of commitment to a political cause; the base comprise sympathizers with the cause, a higher level those who justify the actions of the activists, thereafter the activists, and at the top, radicals – prepared to use illegal and violent political means. Adolescents form politically active peer groups on the basis of similar legal political behavior.

    The development of illegal political behavior seems a subsequent step. In line with stage theory, it might be argued that illegal political behavior comprises something of a final step on a stairway of political commitment in pursuit of a political goal or cause. Whether illegal political activities are more of a problem than an asset for democracies is a question of normative concern. Irrespective of the way in which we think about this kind of political action, the question of how illegal political behavior come about has previously been neglected. What we can say from this study is that peers have a crucial role to play for the development of alternative political outcomes such as illegal political behavior.

    Access to the article can be found here.

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