Developmental Changes in Emotion Regulation during Adolescence: Associations with Socioeconomic Risk and Family Emotional Context

Abstract

Although theoretical work proposes that emotion regulation development exhibits a positive growth trajectory across adolescence as prefrontal brain regions continue to mature, individual differences in developmental changes of emotion regulation merit elucidation. The present study investigates longitudinal links between the family environment (i.e., socioeconomic risk and family emotional context) and emotion regulation development. The sample included 167 adolescents (53% males) who were first recruited at 13–14 years of age and assessed annually four times. Latent change score analyses identified family emotional context as a mediator between socioeconomic risk and emotion regulation development, such that lower socioeconomic risk (higher socioeconomic status and lower household chaos) at Time 1 was associated with a more positive family emotional context (parent emotion regulation, parenting practices, and parent–adolescent relationship quality), which in turn was associated with larger year-to-year increases in emotion regulation. The findings highlight the important role of the family emotional context as a process explaining how the challenges of growing up in a household laden with socioeconomic risk may be associated with emotion regulation development during adolescence.

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Acknowledgements

We thank current and former JK Lifespan Development Lab members for their help with data collection. We are grateful to the adolescents and parents who participated in our study.

Authors’ Contributions

TH conceived the study, participated in data collection, conducted statistical analyses and interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript; BKC participated in conceiving the study; JKS participated in conceiving the study, participated in interpretation of the data, participated in drafting the manuscript, and critically revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding

This work was supported by a grant awarded to J.K.S. and B.K.C. from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA036017).

Data Sharing and Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Herd, T., King-Casas, B. & Kim-Spoon, J. Developmental Changes in Emotion Regulation during Adolescence: Associations with Socioeconomic Risk and Family Emotional Context. J Youth Adolescence 49, 1545–1557 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01193-2

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Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Emotion regulation
  • Socioeconomic risk
  • Family emotional context
  • Latent change score modeling