Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 11, pp 2179–2189 | Cite as

Does Negative Emotional Reactivity Moderate the Relation between Contextual Cohesion and Adolescent Well-Being?

  • Lindsay B. MyerbergEmail author
  • Jill A. Rabinowitz
  • Maureen D. Reynolds
  • Deborah A. G. Drabick
Empirical Research


Although well-being is a chief indicator of positive mental health, much research has neglected to consider individual-specific and contextual factors that may promote this important outcome among youth. To address this gap, we examined whether neighborhood and family social cohesion are associated with well-being among youth varying in negative emotional reactivity, and whether findings were consistent with the diathesis-stress or differential susceptibility hypothesis. Participants were assessed at 3 time points: Time 1 (N = 775, M age = 10.95 ± 0.88 years; 71% male); Time 2 (n = 660, M age = 12.99 ± 0.95 years); and Time 3 (n = 633, M age = 15.50 ± 0.56 years). At Time 1, caregivers reported on family and neighborhood cohesion. Youth reported on their negative emotional reactivity at Time 2 and well-being at Time 3. Negative emotional reactivity moderated the relation between family cohesion and well-being. Among youth higher in negative emotional reactivity, lower family cohesion was associated with lower levels of well-being compared to higher family cohesion. Youth higher and lower in emotional reactivity evidenced similar levels of well-being when exposed to higher family cohesion. The findings thus support the diathesis-stress model, suggesting that less cohesive families may contribute to reduced happiness and well-being, particularly among youth with higher negative emotional reactivity.


Negative emotional reactivity Family cohesion Neighborhood social cohesion Diathesis-stress model Differential susceptibility Well-being 



We thank all study participants, in addition to Dr. Ralph Tarter, the Principal Investigator of the project, Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research (CEDAR), from which these data were drawn. We also thank the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) for funding for this work (2 P50 DA05605).

Authors’ Contributions

L.B.M. participated in the design and coordination of the study and drafted the manuscript; J.A.R. performed the statistical analyses, participated in interpretation of the data, and helped to draft the manuscript; M.D.R. participated in the design of the study; D.A.G.D. helped draft and revise the manuscript. All the authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant number 2 P50 DA05605).

Data Sharing and Declaration

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research but restrictions apply to the availability of these data, which were used under license for the current study, and are not publicly available. However, data are available from the authors upon reasonable request and with permission of the Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institutional Review Board (Protocol IRB0107007) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology at Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Bloomberg’s School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.University of Pittsburgh School of PharmacyPittsburghUSA

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