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Preview: Developmental Psychology - Vol 44, Iss 2

Developmental Psychology - Vol 53, Iss 4



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



Last Build Date: Sun, 26 Mar 2017 16:00:07 EST

Copyright: Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
 



Developmental origins of infant emotion regulation: Mediation by temperamental negativity and moderation by maternal sensitivity.

2017-03-23

Emotion regulation is essential to cognitive, social, and emotional development and difficulties with emotion regulation portend future socioemotional, academic, and behavioral difficulties. There is growing awareness that many developmental outcomes previously thought to begin their development in the postnatal period have their origins in the prenatal period. Thus, there is a need to integrate evidence of prenatal influences within established postnatal factors, such as infant temperament and maternal sensitivity. In the current study, prenatal depression, pregnancy anxiety, and diurnal cortisol patterns (i.e., the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and diurnal slope) were assessed in 254 relatively low-risk mother-infant pairs (primarily White, middle-class) in early (M = 15 weeks) and late pregnancy (M = 33 weeks). Mothers reported on infant temperamental negativity (Infant Behavior Questionnaire–Revised) at 3 months. At 6 months, maternal sensitivity (Parent Child Interaction Teaching Scale) and infant emotion regulation behavior (Laboratory Temperament Assessment Battery) were assessed. Greater pregnancy anxiety in early pregnancy and a blunted CAR in late pregnancy predicted higher infant temperamental negativity at 3 months, and those infants with higher temperamental negativity used fewer attentional regulation strategies and more avoidance (i.e., escape behavior) at 6 months. Furthermore, this indirect effect was moderated by maternal sensitivity whereby infants with elevated negativity demonstrated maladaptive emotion regulation at below average levels of maternal sensitivity. These findings suggest that the development of infant emotion regulation is influenced by the ways that prenatal exposures shape infant temperament and is further modified by postnatal caregiving. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



A potential psychological mechanism linking disaster-related prenatal maternal stress with child cognitive and motor development at 16 months: The QF2011 Queensland Flood Study.

2017-03-23

Fetal exposure to prenatal maternal stress can have lifelong consequences, with different types of maternal stress associated with different areas of child development. Fewer studies have focused on motor skills, even though they are strongly predictive of later development across a range of domains. Research on mechanisms of transmission has identified biological cascades of stress reactions, yet links between psychological stress reactions are rarely studied. This study investigates the relationship between different aspects of disaster-related prenatal maternal stress and child cognitive and motor development, and proposes a cascade of stress reactions as a potential mechanism of transmission. Mothers in the Queensland Flood Study (QF2011) exposed to a major flood during pregnancy completed questionnaires assessing flood exposure, symptoms of peritraumatic distress, dissociation, and posttraumatic stress (PTSD), and cognitive appraisal of the overall flood consequences. At 16 months post-partum, children’s (N = 145) cognitive and motor development was assessed using the Bayley-III. Flood exposure predicted child cognitive development and maternal PTSD symptoms and negative cognitive appraisal were significantly negatively related to child motor development, with all relationships moderated by timing of exposure. Together, a cascade of stress reactions linked maternal flood exposure to poorer fine motor development. These findings suggest that the way stress reactions operate together is as important as the way they operate in isolation, and identifies a potential psychological mechanism of transmission for the effects of prenatal stress. Results have implications for conceptualizing prenatal stress research and optimizing child development in the wake of natural disasters. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Learning higher-order generalizations through free play: Evidence from 2- and 3-year-old children.

2017-03-23

Constructivist views of cognitive development often converge on 2 key points: (a) the child’s goal is to build large conceptual structures for understanding the world, and (b) the child plays an active role in developing these structures. While previous research has demonstrated that young children show a precocious capacity for concept and theory building when they are provided with helpful data within training settings, and that they explore their environment in ways that may promote learning, it remains an open question whether young children are able to build larger conceptual structures using self-generated evidence, a form of active learning. In the current study, we examined whether children can learn high-order generalizations (which form the basis for larger conceptual structures) through free play, and whether they can do so as effectively as when provided with relevant data. Results with 2- and 3-year-old children over 4 experiments indicate robust learning through free play, and generalization performance was comparable between free play and didactic conditions. Therefore, young children’s self-directed learning supports the development of higher-order generalizations, laying the foundation for building larger conceptual structures and intuitive theories. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Training preschoolers’ prospective abilities through conversation about the extended self.

2017-03-06

The ability to act on behalf of one’s future self is related to uniquely human abilities such as planning, delay of gratification, and goal attainment. Although prospection develops rapidly during early childhood, little is known about the mechanisms that support its development. Here we explored whether encouraging children to talk about their extended selves (self outside the present context) boosts their prospective abilities. Preschoolers (N = 81) participated in a 5-min interaction with an adult in which they were asked to talk about events in the near future, distant future, near past, or present. Compared with children discussing their present and distant future, children asked to discuss events in their near future or near past displayed better planning and prospective memory. Additionally, those 2 conditions were most effective in eliciting self-projection (use of personal pronouns). Results suggest that experience communicating about the temporally contiguous, extended self may promote children’s future-oriented thinking. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Action at its place: Contextual settings enhance action recognition in 4- to 8-year-old children.

2017-02-09

Actions are recognized faster and with higher accuracy when they take place in their typical environments. It is unclear, however, when contextual cues from the environment become effectively exploited during childhood and whether contextual integration interacts with other factors such as children’s perceptual or motor experience with an action. In the present experiment, we asked 4- to 8-year-olds (n = 159) to recognize pantomime actions that took place in compatible, incompatible, or neutral contextual settings. In each age cohort, children recognized more actions taking place in compatible compared to incompatible and neutral contexts. This result demonstrates robust facilitation effects of context on action recognition independent of age. Additionally, we found an interaction of context effects with action familiarity: Context effects were strongest when the children were less familiar with the actions, suggesting that contextual settings are particularly beneficial for action recognition when experience with an action is sparse. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Working memory training in typically developing children: A meta-analysis of the available evidence.

2017-02-06

The putative effectiveness of working memory (WM) training at enhancing cognitive and academic skills is still ardently debated. Several researchers have claimed that WM training fosters not only skills such as visuospatial WM and short-term memory (STM), but also abilities outside the domain of WM, such as fluid intelligence and mathematics. Other researchers, while acknowledging the positive effect of WM training on WM-related cognitive skills, are much more pessimistic about the ability of WM training to improve other cognitive and academic skills. In other words, the idea that far-transfer—that is, the generalization of a set of skills across two domains only loosely related to each other—may take place in WM training is still controversial. In this meta-analysis, the authors focused on the effects of WM training on cognitive and academic skills (e.g., fluid intelligence, attention/inhibition, mathematics, and literacy) in typically developing (TD) children (aged 3 to 16). Whereas WM training exerted a significant effect on cognitive skills related to WM training (g = 0.46), little evidence was found regarding far-transfer effects (g = 0.12). Moreover, the size of the effects was inversely related to the quality of the design (i.e., random allocation to the groups and presence of an active control group). Results suggest that WM training is ineffective at enhancing TD children’s cognitive or academic skills and that, when positive effects are observed, they are modest at best. Thus, in line with other types of training, far-transfer rarely occurs and its effects are minimal. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Young children’s understanding of the limits and benefits of group ownership.

2017-02-20

Group ownership is ubiquitous—property is owned by countries, corporations, families, and clubs. However, people cannot understand group ownership by simply relying on their conceptions of ownership by individuals, as group ownership is subject to complexities that do not arise when property is individually owned. We report 6 experiments investigating whether children ages 3 to 6 (N = 540) understand group ownership. In Experiments 1 and 2 children were asked who different objects belong to, and they appropriately judged that certain objects are more likely to belong to a group than to individual people. Experiments 3 and 4 investigated whether children understand the limits of group ownership. Children saw vignettes where agents modified or depleted property. Children ages 3 and older understood that individual members of a group should not deplete group-owned property, and children ages 5 and 6 understood that individual members should not modify group-owned property. Finally, Experiments 5 and 6 investigated whether children understand the benefits of group ownership. Children ages 5 and 6 judged that it is more acceptable for a group member to take group property than for a nonmember to do this, and children ages 4 to 6 judged that group members can take more group resources than can nonmembers. Together, these results are informative about how children conceive of group ownership rights, and about children’s conceptions of groups. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Reading self-perceived ability, enjoyment and achievement: A genetically informative study of their reciprocal links over time.

2017-03-23

Extant literature has established a consistent association between aspects of reading motivation, such as enjoyment and self-perceived ability, and reading achievement, in that more motivated readers are generally more skilled readers. However, the developmental etiology of this relation is yet to be investigated. The present study explores the development of the motivation–achievement association and its genetic and environmental underpinnings. Applying cross-lagged design in a sample of 13,825 twins, we examined the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to the association between reading enjoyment and self-perceived ability and reading achievement. Children completed a reading comprehension task and self-reported their reading enjoyment and perceived ability twice in middle childhood: when they were 9–10 and 12 years old. Results showed a modest reciprocal association over time between reading motivation (enjoyment and perceived ability) and reading achievement. Reading motivation at age 9–10 statistically predicted the development of later achievement, and similarly, reading achievement at age 9–10 predicted the development of later motivation. This reciprocal association was observed beyond the stability of the variables and their contemporaneous correlation and was largely explained by genetic factors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Development of fraction comparison strategies: A latent transition analysis.

2017-02-20

The present study investigated the development of fraction comparison strategies through a longitudinal analysis of children’s responses to a fraction comparison task in 4th through 6th grades (N = 394). Participants were asked to choose the larger value for 24 fraction pairs blocked by fraction type. Latent class analysis of performance over item blocks showed that most children initially exhibited a “whole number bias,” indicating that larger numbers in numerators and denominators produce larger fraction values. However, some children instead chose fractions with smaller numerators and denominators, demonstrating a partial understanding that smaller numbers can yield larger fractions. Latent transition analysis showed that most children eventually adopted normative comparison strategies. Children who exhibited a partial understanding by choosing fractions with smaller numbers were more likely to adopt normative comparison strategies earlier than those with larger number biases. Controlling for general math achievement and other cognitive abilities, whole number line estimation accuracy predicted the probability of transitioning to normative comparison strategies. Exploratory factor analyses showed that over time, children appeared to increasingly represent fractions as discrete magnitudes when simpler strategies were unavailable. These results support the integrated theory of numerical development, which posits that an understanding of numbers as magnitudes unifies the process of learning whole numbers and fractions. The findings contrast with conceptual change theories, which propose that children must move from a view of numbers as counting units to a new view that accommodates fractions to overcome whole number bias. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Achievement goal profiles among adolescent males and females.

2017-03-23

Achievement goal theory has long been a dominant model in the study of student motivation. However, a relatively small number of researchers have investigated gender differences in achievement goals or have considered the possible role that social and extrinsic goals may play in student academic motivation. Adopting a person-centered multiple goals perspective based on personal investment theory, this longitudinal study investigated whether males and females shared similar goal profiles, and whether the predictors (facilitating conditions) and outcomes (learning processes, task perseverance, and future aspirations) of these profiles were equivalent across genders. Profiles were extracted from 8 types of academic goals, based on a large sample of Hong Kong high school students (N = 7,848). Findings revealed 5 distinctive profiles for both males and females. Although the relative size of these profiles differed across samples of male and female students, the results show that 4 of these profiles were mostly equivalent across genders. Predictors of membership into these profiles were also equivalent across genders, whereas their relative outcomes were specific to gender. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



The long arm of childhood: Preschool associations with adolescent health.

2017-03-23

The current study examines the extent to which participation in preschool at age 4 is associated with blood pressure, body mass index, and awakening cortisol at age 15. We capitalize on data from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development to examine differences in adolescent health among children who attended preschool, parental care, or home-based care at age 4 (n = 742). Using quasi-experimental methods, we found that preschool participation was associated with multiple positive health outcomes in adolescence. In particular, preschool participation was associated with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure and lower arterial pressure during adolescence compared with children in parental care (but not home-based care). Preschool participation was also related to lower levels of cortisol (measured at waking) compared with youth who did not attend preschool. More hours in preschool was associated with higher body mass index and more teacher education is associated with lower teacher education. Results are discussed in terms of how early preschool experiences may help to explain long-term health trajectories. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Childhood gender-typed behavior and adolescent sexual orientation: A longitudinal population-based study.

2017-02-20

Lesbian and gay individuals have been reported to show more interest in other-sex, and/or less interest in same-sex, toys, playmates, and activities in childhood than heterosexual counterparts. Yet, most of the relevant evidence comes from retrospective studies or from prospective studies of clinically referred, extremely gender nonconforming children. In addition, findings are mixed regarding the relation between childhood gender-typed behavior and the later sexual orientation spectrum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively lesbian/gay. The current study drew a sample (2,428 girls and 2,169 boys) from a population-based longitudinal study, and found that the levels of gender-typed behavior at ages 3.5 and 4.75 years, although less so at age 2.5 years, significantly and consistently predicted adolescents’ sexual orientation at age 15 years, both when sexual orientation was conceptualized as 2 groups or as a spectrum. In addition, within-individual change in gender-typed behavior during the preschool years significantly related to adolescent sexual orientation, especially in boys. These results suggest that the factors contributing to the link between childhood gender-typed behavior and sexual orientation emerge during early development. Some of those factors are likely to be nonsocial, because nonheterosexual individuals appear to diverge from gender norms regardless of social encouragement to conform to gender roles. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Parenting and later substance use among Mexican-origin youth: Moderation by preference for a common language.

2017-01-12

The primary goal of the current study was to test whether parent and adolescent preference for a common language moderates the association between parenting and rank-order change over time in offspring substance use. A sample of Mexican-origin 7th-grade adolescents (Mage = 12.5 years, N = 194, 52% female) was measured longitudinally on use of tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. Mothers, fathers, and adolescents all reported on consistent discipline and monitoring of adolescents. Both consistent discipline and monitoring predicted relative decreases in substance use into early adulthood but only among parent–offspring dyads who expressed preference for the same language (either English or Spanish). This moderation held after controlling for parent substance use, family structure, having completed schooling in Mexico, years lived in the United States, family income, and cultural values. An unintended consequence of the immigration process may be the loss of parenting effectiveness that is normally present when parents and adolescents prefer to communicate in a common language. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Pathways between self-esteem and depression in couples.

2017-02-06

Guided by concepts from a relational developmental perspective, this study examined intra- and interpersonal associations between self-esteem and depressive symptoms in a sample of 1,407 couples surveyed annually across 6 years in the Panel Analysis of Intimate Relations and Family Dynamics (pairfam) study. Autoregressive cross-lagged model results demonstrated that self-esteem predicted future depressive symptoms for male partners at all times, replicating the vulnerability model for men (low self-esteem is a risk factor for future depression). Additionally, a cross-partner association emerged between symptoms of depression: Higher depressive symptoms in one partner were associated with higher levels of depression in the other partner one year later. Finally, supportive dyadic coping, the support that partners reported providing to one another in times of stress, was tested as a potential interpersonal mediator of pathways between self-esteem and depression. Female partners’ higher initial levels of self-esteem predicted male partners’ subsequent reports of increased supportive dyadic coping, which, in turn, predicted higher self-esteem and fewer symptoms of depression among female partners in the future. Male partners’ initially higher symptoms of depression predicted less frequent supportive dyadic coping subsequently reported by female partners, which was associated with increased feelings of depression in the future. Couple relations represent an important contextual factor that may be implicated in the developmental pathways connecting self-esteem and symptoms of depression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)



Hard-earned wisdom: Exploratory processing of difficult life experience is positively associated with wisdom.

2017-03-23

Laypersons and experts believe that wisdom is cultivated through a diverse range of positive and negative life experiences. Yet, not all individuals with life experience are wise. We propose that one possible determinant of growth in wisdom from life experience is self-reflection. In a life span sample of adults (N = 94) ranging from 26 to 92 years of age, we examined wisdom’s relationship to self-reflection by investigating “why” people report reflecting on the past (i.e., reminiscence functions) and “how” they reflect within autobiographical memories of difficult life events (i.e., autobiographical reasoning). We assessed wisdom using self-report, performance, and nomination approaches. Results indicated that wisdom was unrelated to the frequency of self-reflection; however, wiser people differed from others in their (a) reasons for reminiscence and (b) mode of autobiographical reasoning. Across 3 methods for assessing wisdom, wisdom was positively associated with exploratory processing of difficult life experience (meaning-making, personal growth), whereas redemptive processing (positive emotional reframing, event resolution) was positively associated with adjustment. This study suggests that developmental pathways in the wake of adversity may be partially determined by how individuals self-reflectively process significant life experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)(image)