Adolescent females living in disadvantaged neighborhoods are at heightened risk for a variety of adjustment problems including teen pregnancy, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse. Evidence suggests that emotion dysregulation underlies many of these difficulties. The focus of this project is to examine how relationships with parents and peers can support emotion regulation and reduce risk among teenage girls living in high-risk settings. The central hypothesis is that positive relationship attributes and emotion-related behavior (e.g., emotion coaching) will attenuate the link between emotion dysregulation and adjustment difficulties;it is also expected that negative attributes (e.g., emotion dismissing behavior) will exacerbate this link.
Specific Aim #1 is to identify paren and peer emotion-related behaviors and relationship qualities that moderate the relation between emotion dysregulation and depressive symptoms and risk taking behavior (i.e., risky sex, substance use).
Specific Aim #2 is to engage students in the proposed project and to stimulate the university research environment by conducting innovative research, which is consistent with the R15 mechanism. Study Participants will be 80 adolescent female peer dyads (aged 12-15 years) and their primary caregivers (N = 160 total families). Adolescents will be recruited in dyads, with a best or close friend, and will participate in a four-week study consistig of three assessments. During the first assessment (week 1), adolescents will complete a series of questionnaires and participate in separate conflict and emotion discussion interaction tasks with their mothers and friends. In weeks 2 and 3, the adolescents'daily emotion regulation will be assessed using Ecological Momentary Assessment, a method of gathering real-time data in natural environments through the use of signaling devices. In week four, the adolescents will return to the lab to complete questionnaires assessing depression, risky sex, and substance use. The Research Team will consist of undergraduate students who will collect, enter, code, analyze, and present data. Graduate students will oversee the work of the undergraduate team, and the investigators will mentor students throughout the research process via weekly lab meetings, research seminars, and research discussions. The contribution of this project is expected to be the identification of relationship factors that promote resilience among adolescent females at risk for depression and risk taking behavior. This information is critical because it will be used to create intervention programs targeting relationships as protective factors that impact successful emotion regulation. The proposed project is innovative because it includes a multi-method, multi-informant assessment of emotions in daily life and how emotions are discussed in parent-youth and peer relationship contexts. A team of student research assistants is essential for conducting the research, and students will gain knowledge about the research process and factors that shape adolescent emotion regulation and adjustment.

Public Health Relevance

The clinical application of this study is the identification of parent and peer relationship factors that promote resilience among adolescent females at risk for depression and risk taking behavior. Results will be used to inform intervention programming focused on utilizing relationships to improve emotion regulation among adolescent females from disadvantaged backgrounds. Such programs may include parent education, peer counseling, or prevention programming conducted in school settings that focus on building healthy emotional relationships and teaching adolescents how to effectively respond to emotions.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-N (90))
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Esposito, Layla E
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Oklahoma State University Stillwater
Other Health Professions
Other Domestic Higher Education
United States
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Criss, Michael M; Houltberg, Benjamin J; Cui, Lixian et al. (2016) Direct and Indirect Links between Peer Factors and Adolescent Adjustment Difficulties. J Appl Dev Psychol 43:83-90
Cui, Lixian; Morris, Amanda Sheffield; Harrist, Amanda W et al. (2015) Adolescent RSA responses during an anger discussion task: Relations to emotion regulation and adjustment. Emotion 15:360-72
Criss, Michael M; Lee, Tammy K; Morris, Amanda Sheffield et al. (2015) Link between Monitoring Behavior and Adolescent Adjustment: An Analysis of Direct and Indirect Effects. J Child Fam Stud 24:668-678
Cui, Lixian; Morris, Amanda Sheffield; Harrist, Amanda W et al. (2015) Dynamic changes in parent affect and adolescent cardiac vagal regulation: a real-time analysis. J Fam Psychol 29:180-90
Cui, Lixian; Morris, Amanda Sheffield; Criss, Michael M et al. (2014) Parental Psychological Control and Adolescent Adjustment: The Role of Adolescent Emotion Regulation. Parent Sci Pract 14:47-67