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Developmental Psychology - Vol 53, Iss 12

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Developmental Psychology Developmental Psychology publishes articles that advance knowledge and theory about human development across the life span.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • The impact of negative affect on attention patterns to threat across the first 2 years of life.
    The current study examined the relations between individual differences in attention to emotion faces and temperamental negative affect across the first 2 years of life. Infant studies have noted a normative pattern of preferential attention to salient cues, particularly angry faces. A parallel literature suggests that elevated attention bias to threat is associated with anxiety, particularly if coupled with temperamental risk. Examining the emerging relations between attention to threat and temperamental negative affect may help distinguish normative from at-risk patterns of attention. Infants (N = 145) ages 4 to 24 months (M = 12.93 months, SD = 5.57) completed an eye-tracking task modeled on the attention bias “dot-probe” task used with older children and adults. With age, infants spent greater time attending to emotion faces, particularly threat faces. All infants displayed slower latencies to fixate to incongruent versus congruent probes. Neither relation was moderated by temperament. Trial-by-trial analyses found that dwell time to the face was associated with latency to orient to subsequent probes, moderated by the infant’s age and temperament. In young infants low in negative affect longer processing of angry faces was associated with faster subsequent fixation to probes; young infants high in negative affect displayed the opposite pattern at trend. Findings suggest that although age was directly associated with an emerging bias to threat, the impact of processing threat on subsequent orienting was associated with age and temperament. Early patterns of attention may shape how children respond to their environments, potentially via attention’s gate-keeping role in framing a child’s social world for processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Infant iron deficiency, child affect, and maternal unresponsiveness: Testing the long-term effects of functional isolation.
    Children who are iron deficient (ID) or iron-deficient anemic (IDA) have been shown to seek and receive less stimulation from their caregivers, contributing to functional isolation. Over time, the reduced interactions between child and caregiver are thought to interfere with the acquisition of normative social competencies and adversely affect the child’s development. The current study examined functional isolation in children who were ID or IDA in infancy in relation to social difficulties in middle childhood and problem behaviors in adolescence. Using a sample of 873 Chilean children, 45% of whom were ID or IDA in infancy, structural equation modeling results indicated that infant IDA was associated with children’s dull affect and social reticence at age 5, which were related to mothers’ unresponsiveness and understimulation. Mothers’ limited responsiveness and stimulation were, in turn, related to children’s peer rejection at age 10, which further linked to problem behaviors and associating with deviant peers at adolescence. Findings support the functional isolation hypothesis and suggest that early limited caregiver responsiveness and stimulation contribute to long-term social difficulties in adolescents who were iron-deficient anemic in infancy. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Ontogeny of emotional and behavioral problems in a low-income, Mexican American sample.
    Clinically meaningful behavior problems are thought to be present beginning in the early toddler years, yet few studies have investigated correlates of behavior problems assessed before age 2 years. The current study investigated the direct and interactive contributions of early infant and caregiver characteristics thought to play an important role in the ontogeny of behavior problems. Specifically, the study examined: (a) the links between infant temperamental reactivity and toddler behavioral symptoms, (b) whether maternal sensitivity moderated associations between temperamental reactivity and behavioral symptoms, (c) whether variability in temperamental reactivity was explained by exposure to maternal stressful life events (SLEs) in utero, and (d) whether child sex moderated these pathways. Data were collected from 322 low-income, Mexican American families. Mother reports of SLEs were obtained between 23 and 40 weeks gestation; temperamental negativity and surgency at 6 weeks and 12 months; and internalizing and externalizing behaviors at 18 months. Maternal sensitivity during structured mother-infant interaction tasks at a 12-month visit was assessed by objective raters. Results indicated that significant paths linked maternal prenatal SLEs with 6-week negativity, 6-week negativity with 12-month negativity, and 12-month negativity with 18-month behavioral symptoms. Sex-specific effects were also observed. Maternal SLEs were directly associated with internalizing behaviors for girls only. Surgency and maternal sensitivity moderated the associations of negativity with subsequent externalizing behaviors for girls only. Results suggest that ecological stressors associated with sociodemographic risk factors such as low-income and ethnic minority status begin to exert cascades of influence on children’s developmental outcomes even before birth. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Sleep problems in preschoolers and maternal depressive symptoms: An evaluation of mother- and child-driven effects.
    Child sleep problems are associated with maternal depressive symptoms. It is unclear to what extent the association is due to direct effects or common risk factors for mother and child. Direct effects could represent child-driven processes, where child sleep problems influence maternal depressive symptoms, or mother-driven processes, where maternal depressive symptoms influence child sleep problems. Common factors could be shared genetic and familial environmental risk. Child- and mother-driven processes are direct in the sense that they are not due to common factors. However, such processes could be mediated by a range of unmeasured variables. By using an autoregressive fixed-effects model on a community-based longitudinal sample comprising 956 families assessed when children were 1.5, 2.5, and 4 years of age, we estimated the direction of effect between, and common causes of, child sleep problems and maternal depressive symptoms. We were able to explain the association between child sleep problems and maternal depressive symptoms by both child-driven and mother-driven processes. The effect of child-driven processes was significantly larger than the effect of mother-driven processes. The clinical implication of the study is that treatment of child sleep problems will have considerable effect on maternal depressive symptoms. Furthermore, our model supports that treatment of current child sleep problems will have a direct effect on future sleep problems and also an indirect effect on future maternal depressive symptoms. We recommend that health professionals assess child sleep problems in mothers at risk for depression. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Family investments in low-income children’s achievement and socioemotional functioning.
    Family processes and parenting practices help explain developmental differences between children in low- versus higher-income households. There are, however, few studies addressing the question of: what are the key family processes and parenting practices for promoting low-income children’s growth? We address this question in the present study, following conceptual work framing family processes and parenting practices as investments in children. Using secondary analyses of longitudinal data on low-income children from birth to age 15 (n = 528), we estimate several potential family investments in achievement and socioemotional outcomes during early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence. For achievement outcomes, family investments in learning stimulation were consistently the strongest predictors. For socioemotional outcomes, investments in an orderly household and close parental supervision were the most consistent and strongest predictors, even more so than sensitive parenting. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Not just numeracy and literacy: Theory of mind development and school readiness among low-income children.
    The current study investigated the role of theory of mind development in school readiness among 120 low-income preschool and kindergarten children. A short-term longitudinal design was used to examine relations among theory of mind, the understanding of teaching, and learning behaviors and their collective role in children’s literacy and numeracy skills at school entry. Results replicate differences in theory of mind development among low-income children as compared to typically studied, higher-income samples. Theory of mind and the combination of several sociocognitive variables successfully predicted concurrent relations with academic outcomes. Children’s understanding of teaching predicted changes in literacy scores over time. Results are discussed in the context of what is known about theory of mind and sociocognitive development in school readiness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Knowing, applying, and reasoning about arithmetic: Roles of domain-general and numerical skills in multiple domains of arithmetic learning.
    The longitudinal relations of domain-general and numerical skills at ages 6–7 years to 3 cognitive domains of arithmetic learning, namely knowing (written computation), applying (arithmetic word problems), and reasoning (arithmetic reasoning) at age 11, were examined for a representative sample of 378 Finnish children. The results showed that domain-general skills, including spatial visualization, language, rapid automatized naming, and working memory, contributed independently to arithmetic learning. These relations were mostly mediated via basic number competence (i.e., counting sequence and number system knowledge), although spatial visualization remained predictive of arithmetic outcomes. The findings underscore a similar developmental course of arithmetic learning across different cognitive domains where domain-general skills build a launchpad for advanced arithmetic via enhancing basic number competence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Knowing-it-all but still learning: Perceptions of one’s own knowledge and belief revision.
    Lay theories suggest that people who are overconfident in their knowledge are less likely to revise that knowledge when someone else offers an alternative belief. Similarly, one might assume that people who are willing to revise their beliefs might not be very confident in their knowledge to begin with. Two studies with children ages 4–11 years old and college students call these lay theories into question. We found that young children were simultaneously more overconfident in their knowledge (e.g., believing they knew what chartreuse meant) and more likely to revise their initial beliefs (e.g., choosing another color after seeing a peer choose a different color) than older children and adults. These results bridge the metacognitive and epistemic trust literatures, which have largely progressed independently from each other. We discuss the potential causes and functions of the dissociation between the confidence with which beliefs are held and the revision of those beliefs across development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Group norms, intergroup resource allocation, and social reasoning among children and adolescents.
    Cooperation is a fundamental drive of moral behavior from infancy, yet competitive intergroup contexts can exert a significant influence on resource allocation behavior in childhood. The present study explored how ingroup and outgroup norms of competition and cooperation influenced the allocation of resources between groups among children and adolescents, along with how they reasoned about these allocations. Ingroup norms combined, for the first time, with outgroup norms were manipulated to examine their effect on the development of intergroup resource allocation. Participants aged 8 to 16 years (n = 229) were told that their ingroup and the outgroup held either a competitive or cooperative norm about how they should behave in an arts competition. They then allocated tokens for expenditure in the competition between the 2 teams, and provided social reasoning to justify their chosen allocations. Results showed a negative outgroup norm of competition led to significantly more ingroup bias when the ingroup also held a competitive rather than a cooperative norm. In contrast, a positive outgroup norm of cooperation did not result in significantly less ingroup bias when the ingroup also held a cooperative norm. Additionally, adolescents, unlike children who allocated equally were more likely to make reference to fair competition, a form of moral reasoning, in the competitive compared with the cooperative ingroup norm condition. This study showed that children and adolescents considered both ingroup and outgroup norms simultaneously when making intergroup resource allocations, but that only adolescents varied their reasoning to justify these allocation in line with group norms. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Bedroom media: One risk factor for development.
    Mass media have numerous effects on children, ranging from influencing school performance to increased or reduced aggression. What we do not know, however, is how media availability in the bedroom moderates these effects. Although several researchers have suggested that bedroom media may influence outcomes by displacing other activities (the displacement hypothesis) or by changing the content of media consumed (the content hypothesis), these have rarely been tested directly. This study tested both hypotheses using several outcomes that are associated with bedroom media and some of the underlying mediating mechanisms. The hypotheses were tested using 3 longitudinal samples of varying methods, age, duration, and country. The results indicate that children who have bedroom media are likely to watch larger amounts of screen time which displaced important activities, such as reading and sleeping, which mediated later negative outcomes such as poor school performance. Bedroom media also influence risk for obesity and video game addiction. Children with bedroom media are also likely to be exposed to more media violence. The violent content increased normative beliefs about aggression, which increased physical aggression, providing support for the content hypothesis. This study demonstrates that media can have effects not just from what they show, but also because of what children are not exposed to. Bedroom media are therefore a robust risk factor for several aspects of child development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Media exposure in very young girls: Prospective and cross-sectional relationships with BMIz, self-esteem and body size stereotypes.
    Media exposure among young children has been suggested to influence self-concept and the adoption of social stereotypes regarding body weight, as well as being associated with increased weight. The aim of this study was to examine the role of TV/DVD viewing in the development of positive stereotypes toward thinness, self-esteem and body mass index standardized for child age and gender (BMIz) in very young girls. A sample of 143 girls completed interviews at ages 3, 4, and 5 years old. The interviews assessed positive stereotypes about thinness among girls, as well as age 5 dietary restraint. Parents reported on their daughters’ self-esteem and TV/DVD viewing. Objective height and weight were obtained for the children. A cross-lagged model exploring TV/DVD viewing as a predictor of lower self-esteem, greater BMIz, and endorsement of positive stereotypes about thinness was tested, including dietary restraint as an outcome at age 5. Findings revealed partial support for the theoretical model, with relationships emerging most strongly between the ages of 4 and 5 years old. Greater TV/DVD viewing was weakly related to greater endorsement of positive stereotypes about thinness between ages 3 and 4. In addition, greater TV/DVD viewing at age 4 predicted BMIz increases at age 5, as well as greater dietary restraint. Our results suggest that the impact of media exposure on body image and weight-related variables may start at a very early age. Findings contribute to the body of literature suggesting that early childhood may be an important developmental period for media exposure. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Identifying stable variants of callous-unemotional traits: A longitudinal study of at-risk girls.
    Callous-unemotional (CU) traits have proven important for designating children and adolescents showing a pattern of particularly severe, stable, and aggressive antisocial behaviors (Frick, Ray, Thornton, & Kahn, 2014). Individuals with secondary CU traits represent a subpopulation that are distinguished from those with primary CU traits by their high anxiety levels and marked histories of social/environmental adversity; however, evidence is largely based on cross-sectional male samples and this study is the first to examine stable trajectories of CU variants among an all-girl population. Using longitudinal data from the Pittsburgh Girls Study (N = 1,829), we examined whether valid, stable primary and secondary variants of CU traits can be identified among girls using CU traits and anxiety scores, and whether they predict poor adolescent mental health outcomes. Separate trajectory analyses conducted from ages 7 to 15 years indicated an optimal 4-class solution for CU traits (high, moderately high, moderately low, low) and 3 classes for anxiety (high, moderate, low). Classes of interest were combined; those girls with high-anxious secondary CU traits (n = 139) reported significantly greater harsh parental punishment, depression, and less self-control at age 7, and at age 16 were distinguished by greater symptoms of depression, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and conduct disorder (CD), compared with those with primary CU traits (n = 59) and low CU girls (n = 326). Findings improve current understanding of female CU traits by supporting the possibility of multiple developmental pathways, and extend it by identifying possible factors for targeted intervention among this understudied population. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • “A longitudinal person-centered perspective on youth social support: Relations with psychological wellbeing": Correction to Ciarrochi et al. (2017).
    Reports an error in "A longitudinal person-centered perspective on youth social support: Relations with psychological wellbeing" by Joseph Ciarrochi, Alexandre J. S. Morin, Baljinder K. Sahdra, David Litalien and Philip D. Parker (Developmental Psychology, 2017[Jun], Vol 53[6], 1154-1169). In the article, the approach utilized (and illustrated in the authors’ online supplements) for tests of distributional similarity conducted in the context of Latent Transition Analyses (LTA) is suboptimal, and has been recently optimized in a webnote prepared by Morin and Litalien (2017). This webnote should be consulted by anyone thinking to rely on similar methodologies in the LTA context. Importantly, distributional similarity was not supported in Ciarrochi et al. (2017) using either the initial or optimized method, so that the application of the optimized method results in no change in the reported results. As part of this correction, the online supplemental materials have been updated to direct readers to the webnote. The reference for the Morin and Litalien (2017) webnote is included in the erratum. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2017-17082-001.) Past research suggests that perceived social support from parents, teachers, and peers are all positively associated with wellbeing during adolescence. However, little longitudinal research has examined the implications of distinctive combinations of social support for developing adolescents. To address this limitation, we measured multiple dimensions of social support, psychological ill-health, and wellbeing in a sample of 2034 Australian adolescents (Mage = 13.7; 49.6% male) measured in Grades 8 and 11. Latent transition analyses identified a 6-profile solution for both waves of data, and revealed substantial inequality in perceived social support. Two “socially rich” profiles corresponded to 7% of the sample and had high social support (>1SD above sample mean) from at least two sources. (Fully Integrated; Parent and Peer Supported). In contrast, 25% of the sample was “socially poor,” having support that was between −.65 to −.86 SD below the sample mean for all 3 sources (Isolated profile). None of the other profiles (Peer Supported; Moderately Supported; Weakly Supported) had levels of support below −.37 SD from any source. Furthermore, almost all wellbeing problems were concentrated in the Isolated Profile, with negative effects more pronounced in Grade 11 than Grade 8. Despite feeling low parent and teacher support, adolescents in the Peer Supported profile felt strong peer support and average to above-average levels of wellbeing in Grades 8 and 11. However, they also had an 81% chance of making a negative transition to either the Isolated or Weakly Supported profiles in Grade 11. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Cognition–emotion interaction as a predictor of adolescent depressive symptoms.
    Given the sharp increase in rates of depression during adolescence, especially in girls, it is important to identify which youth are at greatest risk across this critical developmental transition. During the present research, we examined whether (a) individual differences in cognition–emotion interaction, as reflected in cognitive control (CC) deficits and trait negative emotionality (NE), predict depression levels across a 1-year period (sixth–seventh grades); and (b) these temperamental traits create a particularly strong risk in girls. Youth (338 girls, 298 boys; M age in 6th grade = 11.96, SD = .37) reported on their trait NE and depressive symptoms; teachers reported on CC deficits. As hypothesized, compromised CC predicted subsequent depressive symptoms in girls with high, but not average or low, trait NE. This research informs efforts to identify which adolescents are at heightened risk for depression during the adolescent transition and points to possible candidates for early intervention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Ethnic pride, self-esteem, and school belonging: A reciprocal analysis over time.
    School belonging (i.e., social connectedness to school) has positive implications for academic achievement and well-being. However, few studies have examined the developmental antecedents of school belonging, particularly for students of Mexican origin. To address this gap in the research literature, the present study examined reciprocal relations between school belonging and two self-affirmation beliefs—self-esteem and ethnic pride—using data from a longitudinal study of Mexican-origin students followed from fifth to ninth grade (N = 674, Mage at Wave 1 = 10.4 years, 50% girls). Furthermore, we evaluated whether the associations were stronger for boys than girls. Using multiple group analysis in a structural equation modeling framework, results indicate that, among boys, ethnic pride was prospectively associated with increases in self-esteem, self-esteem was associated with increases in school belonging, and the direct association between ethnic pride and school belonging was bidirectional. For girls, ethnic pride was prospectively associated with later school belonging. Discussion focuses on the gender differences in observed effects and implications for school programs and interventions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • The developmental course of community service across the transition to adulthood in a national U.S. sample.
    Despite the importance of community service for the well-being of individuals and communities, relatively little is known about the developmental course of community service during the transition to adulthood (TTA). This study tested competing hypotheses about change in community service across the TTA by estimating latent growth models from Ages 18 to 26 in a national U.S. sample. Analyses tested for cohort differences in community service and for individual differences in developmental trajectories by socioeconomic status, gender, grades, religiosity, race/ethnicity, college expectations, and college degree attainment. Using Monitoring the Future data from 1976 to 2011, the best-fitting latent growth model for community service was quadratic: Community service declined from Ages 18 to 24 and leveled off thereafter. Cohort differences in intercepts indicated that Age 18 community service increased over historical time; developmental declines in community service were consistent over 4 decades. Parent education predicted higher Age 18 community service but not growth parameters. Community service trajectories varied by gender, high school grades, religiosity, college expectations, and educational attainment, although all groups declined. Findings contribute to civic developmental theory by clarifying age and cohort effects in community service. Rising levels of community service at Age 18 may reflect heightened focus on service in high schools or the role of other socialization forces, yet these increases do not mitigate the decline across the TTA. We highlight the need for rethinking the ways in which institutions and communities can better support youth community service during the TTA. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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