Adolescence is a critical period for the development of behaviors and attitudes. Understanding the factors influencing pathways through adolescence requires a careful look at the development of typical adolescents in various social contexts. The need for this information is especially marked for adolescents of color. Prince George's County Study of Adolescent Development in Multiple Contexts was designed to collect such information from an economically and ethnically diverse sample of adolescents and their families about the influences of multiple levels of social context on a wide range of developmental indicators. The study design was guided by theories of person-environment fit, stress and coping, and self-schema and identity formation, as well as by expectancy- value models of behavioral choice and transactional/ecological theories of development The project has five major goals: (1) providing a comprehensive description of various developmental trajectories through adolescence; (2) testing the utility of the Eccles et al. (1983) expectancy/value model of choice behavior and of self and identity theories for predicting individual differences in pathways through adolescence; (3) linking variations in these trajectories to experiences in four salient social contexts (family, peers, schools, neighborhood) in terms of the following contextual characteristics: (a) structure/control, (b) support for autonomy, (c) emotional support, (d) opportunities and risks, and (e) shared beliefs, values, and expectations, as well as on the developmental fit between changes in both individuals and contexts; (4) investigating the interplay between these social spheres of experience as they influence development in terms of the following cross-contextual characteristics and processes: (a) compatibility vs. discrepancy, (b) synergistic vs. compensatory influences, and (c) management of multiple contexts by parents, peers, and the adolescents themselves; and (5) extending our understanding of goals 1-4 to African-American adolescents with a focus on both general developmental processes and the specific dynamics associated with ethnic identity, prejudice, discrimination and social stratification. This longitudinal study of approx. 1400 African-American (61%) and European-American (35%) adolescents and their families began in Fall 1991 as the adolescents entered middle school. Three waves of data have been collected from the adolescents, their caregivers, older siblings, school personnel, school records, and the 1990 census databanks via in-home and telephone interviews and self-administered questionnaires. Analysis of these data is underway. We are now proposing to gather two additional waves of data from the adolescents, their in-home caregivers, and their school records--the first as the adolescents begin 11th grade (Summer/Fall 1995), and the second when most of the adolescents will have completed high school (Summer/Fall 1997). We will analyze the data from all five waves in terms of the five specific goals listed above.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Human Development and Aging Subcommittee 3 (HUD)
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
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Ann Arbor
United States
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