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Preview: Developmental Psychology - Vol 44, Iss 2

Developmental Psychology - Vol 53, Iss 7

Developmental Psychology publishes articles that advance knowledge and theory about human development across the life span.

Last Build Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2017 04:00:06 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association

Spatial exploration and changes in infant–mother dyads around transitions in infant locomotion.


Infants’ motor skill development triggers changes in parent–infant interactions, exploration, and play behaviors, particularly during periods of locomotor transitions. We investigated how these transitions reorganized infants’ and mothers’ explorations of spatial layouts. Thirteen infants and their mothers were followed biweekly from the age of 6 to 17 months. This report focused on 2 periods of 6 sessions surrounding infants’ hands-and-knees crawling and walking onsets. Infants’ and mothers’ activities were monitored during 10-min free-play sessions held in a laboratory room provided with toys and furniture. Using location coordinates for the mother and infant, we derived several measures of spatial displacement and exploration as both mother and infant moved around the room. We also observed variations in mothers’ and infants’ interactive behaviors and postural changes within and across sessions. Infants increased interactive behaviors, traveled further distances, and visited more places in the room over time than their mothers. This increase occurred particularly after infants became experienced hands-and-knees crawlers. The distance between infant and mother and number of postural changes also increased as infants became more mobile. This study reveals that mother–infant explorations of spatial layouts diversify and reorganize over time as infants develop new locomotor skills. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Exuberant and inhibited children: Person-centered profiles and links to social adjustment.


The current study aimed to substantiate and extend our understanding regarding the existence and developmental pathways of 3 distinct temperament profiles—exuberant, inhibited, and average approach—in a sample of 3.5-year-old children (n = 121). The interactions between temperamental styles and specific types of effortful control, inhibitory control and attentional control, were also examined in predicting kindergarten peer acceptance. Latent profile analysis identified 3 temperamental styles: exuberant, inhibited, and average approach. Support was found for the adaptive role of inhibitory control for exuberant children and attentional control for inhibited children in promoting peer acceptance in kindergarten. These findings add to our current understanding of temperamental profiles by using sophisticated methodology in a slightly older, community sample, as well as the importance of examining specific types of self-regulation to identify which skills lower risk for children of different temperamental styles. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Heterogeneity in externalizing problems at age 3: Association with age 15 biological and environmental outcomes.


Investigating heterogeneity in antisocial behavior early in life is essential for understanding the etiology, development, prognosis, and treatment of these problems. Data from the longitudinal National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) study of Early Child Care were used to identify homogeneous groups of young antisocial children differentiated on externalizing problems, internalizing problems, and callous-unemotional (CU) traits using latent profile analysis (LPA). We examined how identified subgroups were differentiated on adolescent social, biological, cognitive, and environmental outcomes, controlling for dispositional and contextual antecedents during the first 2 years of life. The sample consisted of 1,167 children (52% male) followed from toddlerhood to adolescence. LPA identified a large “low problems” group (n = 795; 49.9% male) as well as 3 antisocial groups at age 3: the first scored high on internalizing and externalizing problems but low on CU traits (Ext/Int, n = 125), the second scored high on CU traits and externalizing problems but low on internalizing problems (primary CU variant, n = 135), and the third scored high on CU traits, internalizing, and externalizing problems (secondary CU variant, n = 112), and these differences persisted into adolescence. Primary and secondary CU variants were further differentiated from one another on adolescent measures of aggression (reactive and relational), biological indices (cortisol, heart rate), cognitive abilities, and parental psychopathology, after controlling for early life risk factors (i.e., maternal sensitivity, difficult temperament, and maternal depression). We discuss implications of our findings for research, theory, and practice on early childhood externalizing problems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Predicting growth in English and French vocabulary: The facilitating effects of morphological and cognate awareness.


The present study investigated the contribution of morphological and cognate awareness to the development of English and French vocabulary knowledge among young minority and majority language children who were enrolled in a French immersion program. Participating children (n = 75) were assessed in English and French on measures of morphological awareness, cognate awareness, and vocabulary knowledge from Grades 1 to 3. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to investigate linear trends in English and French vocabulary growth for minority and majority language children and to identify metalinguistic contributions to Grade 1 and Grade 3 English and French vocabulary performance and rate of growth. Results demonstrated a similar pattern of prediction for both groups of children. English and French morphological awareness and French-English cognate awareness significantly predicted concurrent and longitudinal vocabulary development after controlling for nonverbal reasoning, phonological awareness, and word identification. The contributions of morphological awareness to English vocabulary and cognate awareness to French vocabulary strengthened between Grades 1 and 2. These findings highlight the emerging importance of morphological and cognate awareness in children’s vocabulary development and suggest that these metalinguistic factors can serve to broaden the vocabulary repertoire of children who enter school with limited language proficiency. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Number prompts left-to-right spatial mapping in toddlerhood.


Toddlers performed a spatial mapping task in which they were required to learn the location of a hidden object in a vertical array and then transpose this location information 90° to a horizontal array. During the vertical training, they were given (a) no labels, (b) alphabetical labels, or (c) numerical labels for each potential spatial location. After the array was transposed to become a horizontal continuum, the children who were provided with numerical labels during training and those who heard alphabetical labels and formed a strong memory for the vertical location, selectively chose the location corresponding to a left-to-right mapping bias. Children who received no concurrent ordinal labels during training were not able to transpose the array, and did not exhibit any spatial directionality bias after transposition. These results indicate that children exhibit more flexible spatial mapping than other animals, and this mapping is modulated depending on the type of concurrent ordinal information the child receives. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Classroom displays—Attraction or distraction? Evidence of impact on attention and learning from children with and without autism.


Paying attention is a critical first step toward learning. For children in primary school classrooms there can be many things to attend to other than the focus of a lesson, such as visual displays on classroom walls. The aim of this study was to use eye-tracking techniques to explore the impact of visual displays on attention and learning for children. Critically, we explored these issues for children developing typically and for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Both groups of children watched videos of a teacher delivering classroom activities—2 of “story-time” and 2 mini lessons. Half of the videos each child saw contained high levels of classroom visual displays in the background (high visual display [HVD]) and half had none (no visual display [NVD]). Children completed worksheets after the mini lessons to measure learning. During viewing of all videos children’s eye movements were recorded. The presence of visual displays had a significant impact on attention for all children, but to a greater extent for children with ASD. Visual displays also had an impact on learning from the mini lessons, whereby children had poorer learning scores in the HVD compared with the NVD lesson. Individual differences in age, verbal, nonverbal, and attention abilities were important predictors of learning, but time spent attending the visual displays in HVD was the most important predictor. This novel and timely investigation has implications for the use of classroom visual displays for all children, but particularly for children with ASD. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Sleep and cognitive functioning in childhood: Ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and sex as moderators.


We examined children’s sleep at age 9 as a predictor of developmental trajectories of cognitive performance from ages 9 to 11 years. The effects of sleep on cognition are not uniform and thus we tested race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), and sex as moderators of these associations. At the first assessment, 282 children aged 9.44 years (52% boys, 65% European American [EA], 35% African American [AA]) participated. Two more waves of data collection spaced 1 year apart followed. The majority of children (63%) were living at or below the poverty line. Children’s sleep was measured objectively with actigraphy and 2 well-established sleep parameters were derived: duration, indexed by sleep minutes between sleep onset and wake time, and quality, indexed by efficiency. Multiple cognitive functioning domains were examined with the Woodcock Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ III). Across the sample, higher sleep efficiency, but not duration, was associated with better cognitive performance. Significant moderation effects emerged. Controlling for SES, AA children scored lower on general intellectual ability and working memory (WM) at age 11 only if they experienced lower sleep efficiency at age 9. Further, boys scored lower on general abilities and processing speed (PS) at age 11 only if their sleep efficiency was lower at age 9. Findings indicate that lower sleep efficiency may contribute to lower cognitive functioning especially for AA children and boys. These vulnerabilities appear to emerge early in development and are maintained over time. Results underscore the importance of individual differences in explicating relations between sleep and children’s cognitive performance. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Intelligence, income, and education as potential influences on a child’s home environment: A (maternal) sibling-comparison design.


The quality of the home environment, as a predictor, is related to health, education, and emotion outcomes. However, factors influencing the quality of the home environment, as an outcome, have been understudied—particularly how children construct their own environments. Further, most previous research on family processes and outcomes has implemented between-family designs, which limit claims of causality. The present study uses kinship data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to construct a maternal sibling-comparison design to investigate how maternal and child traits predict the quality of home environment. Using a standard between-family analysis, we first replicate previous research showing a relationship between maternal intelligence and the quality of the home environment. Then, we reevaluate the link between maternal intelligence and the home environment using differences between maternal sisters on several characteristics to explain differences between home environments for their children. Following, we evaluate whether child intelligence differences are related to home environment differences in the presence of maternal characteristics. Results are compared with those from the between-family analysis. Past causal interpretations are challenged by our findings, and the role of child intelligence in the construction of the home environment emerges as a critical contributor that increases in importance with development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Change in parenting, change in student–teacher relationships, and oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR): Testing a gene-×-environment (G×E) hypothesis in two samples.


Prior research suggests that parenting affects children’s relationships, including those with teachers, although there is variation across individuals in such effects. Given evidence suggesting that oxytocin may be particularly important for the quality of social relationships, we tested the hypotheses (a) that change in parenting from 4 to 6 years of age influences and predicts change in the student–teacher relationship from 6 to 8 years of age and (b) that this effect is moderated by a polymorphism related to the child’s oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR), rs53576. In 2 studies, participants included, respectively, 652 socioeconomically diverse Norwegian children from a community sample (50.8% male; mean age of 54.9 months at first assessment) and 559 such children from 8 different U.S. locales (49.0% male; approximately 54 months at the first assessment). Norwegian results showed that change in parenting predicted change in student–teacher relationships, but only in the case of children homozygous for the A allele of rs53576 and in a manner consistent with differential-susceptibility theory: for AA carriers, when parenting changed for the worse, so did children’s relationship with teachers, whereas when parenting changed for the better, the teacher–child relationships improved accordingly. Such G×E findings could not be replicated in the American sample. Results are discussed in terms of 2 contrasting models of Person-×-Environment interaction (differential susceptibility and diathesis stress) and potential reasons for failure to replicate. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Change in attachment predicts change in emotion regulation particularly among 5-HTTLPR short-allele homozygotes.


In view of the theory that the attachment relationship provides a foundation for the development of emotion regulation, here, we evaluated (a) whether change in attachment security from 4 to 6 years predicts change in emotion regulation from 6 to 8 years and (b) whether 5-HTTLPR moderates this relation in a Norwegian community sample (n = 678, 99.7% Caucasian). Attachment was measured with the Manchester Child Attachment Story Task, and teachers completed the Emotion Regulation Checklist. Attachment security was modestly stable, with children becoming more secure over time. Regression analyses revealed that increased attachment security from 4 to 6 forecasted increases in emotion regulation from 6 to 8 and decreased attachment security forecasted decreases in emotion regulation. This effect was strongest among the 5-HTTLPR short-allele homozygotes and, according to competitive model fitting, in a differential-susceptibility manner. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Impact of fathers on parental monitoring of daughters and their affiliation with sexually promiscuous peers: A genetically and environmentally controlled sibling study.


Girls who receive higher quality fathering engage in less risky sexual behavior (RSB) than their peers. Previous research identifies higher levels of parental monitoring/knowledge and reduced affiliation with deviant peers as potential mediators of this observed fathering effect. Although paternal investment theory posits a causal effect of fathers on daughters’ RSB, and on the intervening processes that mediate this effect, these relations could arise from genetic or environmental confounds. To address this limitation, we employed the genetically- and environmentally controlled differential sibling-exposure design (N = 101 sister pairs; ages 18–36), which retrospectively examines the effects of differential sibling exposure to family disruption/father absence and quality of fathering. Consistent with a causal explanation, differences between older and younger sisters in the effects of fathering quality on parental monitoring and peer RSB were greatest in biologically disrupted families when there was a large age gap between the sisters (thus maximizing differential exposure to fathers), with greater exposure within families to higher quality fathering increasing parental monitoring and reducing affiliation with sexually promiscuous peers. No such differences were found between older and younger sisters in families with little or no differential exposure to fathers (e.g., biologically intact families) or in response to differences in mothering quality. Taken together, these findings suggest that higher quality fathering may decrease daughters’ engagement in RSB by increasing the amount of parental monitoring that they receive and decreasing their affiliation with peers who promote RSB. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Mothers’ implicit appraisals of their adolescents as unlovable: Explanatory factor linking family conflict and harsh parenting.


This study examined the consequences of negative change in mothers’ implicit appraisals of their adolescents after engaging in a family disagreement. Participants included 194 mothers and their early adolescents (Mage = 12.4 at Wave 1; 50% female) followed over 1 year. Mothers’ implicit appraisals of her child as “unlovable” were assessed using the Go/No-Go Association Task–Child (Sturge-Apple, Rogge, Skibo, et al., 2015), an associative word-sorting task, before and after engaging in a family conflict task. Mothers’ implicit appraisals, on average, did not become more negative following conflicts with their teen. However, substantial variability was evident, suggesting that important individual differences exist in mothers’ cognitive reactivity to conflict. Greater susceptibility to implicit change predicted more harsh and insensitive parenting in response to their adolescents’ bids for support 1 year later. This effect held over and above mothers’ emotional reactivity to the conflict, their explicit negative attitudes about their adolescent, and maternal harshness at Time 1. Harsh and insensitive parenting, in turn, mediated the link between maternal implicit reactivity and subsequent increases in adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems. The results suggest that individual differences in maternal susceptibility to changes in implicit appraisals following conflictual interactions serve as a unique determinant of parenting in adolescence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

First selection, then influence: Developmental differences in friendship dynamics regarding academic achievement.


This study concerns peer selection and influence dynamics in early adolescents’ friendships regarding academic achievement. Using longitudinal social network analysis (RSiena), both selection and influence processes were investigated for students’ average grades and their cluster-specific grades (i.e., language, exact, and social cluster). Data were derived from the SNARE (Social Network Analysis of Risk behavior in Early adolescence) study, using 6 waves (N = 601; Mage = 12.66, 48.9% boys at first wave). Results showed developmental differences between the first and second year of secondary school (seventh and eighth grade). Whereas selection processes were found in the first year on students’ cluster-specific grades, influence processes were found in the second year, on both students’ average and cluster-specific grades. These results suggest that students initially tend to select friends on the basis of similar cluster-based grades (first year), showing that similarity in achievement is attractive for friendships. Especially for low-achieving students, similar-achieving students were highly attractive as friends, whereas they were mostly avoided by high-achieving students. Influence processes on academic achievement take place later on (second year), when students know each other better, indicating that students’ grades become more similar over time in response to their connectedness. Concluding, this study shows the importance of developmental differences and specific school subjects for understanding peer selection and influence processes in adolescents’ academic achievement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Adolescent-perceived parent and teacher overestimation of mathematics ability: Developmental implications for students’ mathematics task values.


This study examines whether and how student-perceived parents’ and teachers’ overestimation of students’ own perceived mathematical ability can explain trajectories for adolescents’ mathematical task values (intrinsic and utility) controlling for measured achievement, following expectancy-value and self-determination theories. Longitudinal data come from a 3-cohort (mean ages 13.25, 12.36, and 14.41 years; Grades 7–10), 4-wave data set of 1,271 Australian secondary school students. Longitudinal structural equation models revealed positive effects of student-perceived overestimation of math ability by parents and teachers on students’ intrinsic and utility math task values development. Perceived parental overestimations predicted intrinsic task value changes between all measurement occasions, whereas utility task value changes only were predicted between Grades 9 and 10. Parental influences were stronger for intrinsic than utility task values. Teacher influences were similar for both forms of task values and commenced after the curricular school transition in Grade 8. Results support the assumptions that the perceived encouragement conveyed by student-perceived mathematical ability beliefs of parents and teachers, promote positive mathematics task values development. Moreover, results point to different mechanisms underlying parents’ and teachers’ support. Finally, the longitudinal changes indicate transition-related increases in the effects of student-perceived overestimations and stronger effects for intrinsic than utility values. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

Civic purpose in late adolescence: Factors that prevent decline in civic engagement after high school.


This study investigated the effects of internal and demographic variables on civic development in late adolescence using the construct civic purpose. We conducted surveys on civic engagement with 480 high school seniors, and surveyed them again 2 years later. Using multivariate regression and linear mixed models, we tested the main effects of civic purpose dimensions (beyond-the-self motivation, future civic intention), ethnicity, and education on civic development from Time 1 to Time 2. Results showed that while there is an overall decrease in civic engagement in the transition out of high school, both internal and social factors protected participants from steep civic decline. Interaction effects varied. Ethnicity and education interacted in different ways with the dimensions of civic purpose to predict change in traditional and expressive political engagement, and community service engagement. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)

The association of age, sense of control, optimism, and self-esteem with emotional distress.


The aim of this study was to test a model of emotional distress, which incorporates the potential mediator role of positive resources (sense of control, self-esteem, and optimism) in the association of age with emotional distress. The study used a cross-sectional design with intentional sampling and the voluntary participation of 325 adults between 18 and 87 years (M = 46.8 ± 19.10). The results show that emotional distress was negatively associated with age. Psychological resources also varied according to age, with older subjects presenting higher optimism and external control as well as lower internal control. The association between internal control and emotional distress was mediated by optimism and self-esteem. Moreover, the combined association of these 3 personal resources significantly increased the relationship between age and lower emotional distress. The results suggest that optimism and self-esteem are powerful resources in relieving emotional distress. The data provide potentially useful information for the design of psychological interventions aimed at reducing emotional distress. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)