[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Self-report measures of perceived pubertal timing correspond only weakly with clinical measures of "objective" physical development. Peer and school contexts shape adolescents' self-perceptions of pubertal timing. The current study examined associations between perceived pubertal timing and the pubertal timing reported by nominated friends and schoolmates. Participants included 2817 adolescents (Mage = 16.6; 49 % female; 16 % Black; 20 % Hispanic) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Three measures of pubertal timing were included: age-standardized ratings of body changes, comparisons of development relative to peers (relative timing), and, in females, age at menarche. It was hypothesized that relative timing, which explicitly asks adolescents to compare themselves to their peers, would be related to the age-standardized pubertal timing of nominated friends and schoolmates. Surprisingly, there were no associations between relative timing and age-standardized pubertal timing reported by peers, suggesting that pubertal self-perceptions do not fluctuate in response to the average level of development in a friend group. Instead, males were similar to nominated friends and schoolmates in age-standardized ratings of body changes, and females were similar to nominated friends in relative timing, controlling for race, ethnicity, and age. Different self-report measures of pubertal timing index different underlying constructs, and the social processes that influence adolescents' perceptions of pubertal maturation may differ between genders.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Journal of Youth and Adolescence
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early experiences are critically important for female reproductive development. Although a number of early childhood hardships predict earlier physical development in girls, research on specific populations suggests a distinct effect of childhood sexual abuse compared to other adversities. This study leverages the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 6,273 girls) to test the generalizability of these findings, examining associations of early physical abuse, sexual abuse, and physical neglect with pubertal timing. Child sexual abuse predicted earlier menarche and development of secondary sexual characteristics, whereas other types of maltreatment did not. In addition to replicating results from smaller, more specialized samples, these findings reinforce the value of considering puberty within a broader “life span” continuum of birth to adolescence.
No preview · Article · Mar 2015 · Journal of Research on Adolescence
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the current study, we tested for gene × environment interactions in the association between pubertal timing and adolescent depression by examining how socioeconomic factors might moderate age at menarche’s relation with depressive symptoms. Participants comprised 630 female twin and sibling pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Consistent with previous studies, results showed that genetic predispositions toward later menarche were associated with fewer depressive symptoms and that genetic predispositions toward earlier menarche were associated with more depressive symptoms. However, this pattern was subtle and evident only in girls from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Although girls from lower socioeconomic families showed the highest overall levels of depression, their symptoms appeared unrelated to timing of physical development through either a genetic or an environmental path.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective:
Puberty is an important period of risk for the onset of eating pathology in adolescent females. This review focuses on changes in reproductive hormones during puberty as one specific psychopathogenic mechanism.
Studies of puberty and eating disorder-related phenotypes were identified using search databases and the reference sections of previous literature.
Correlational studies of adult women and experimental studies of animals provide evidence for the effects of reproductive hormones on eating disorder symptoms. Very few studies of puberty, however, have directly measured or tested the effects of hormonal change in samples of human adolescents. Commonly used measures of pubertal development, such as menarche or self-reported pubertal status, are relatively poor indicators of individual differences in hormones. The extent to which puberty-related hormonal change accounts for elevated risk for disordered eating remains unclear.
Future research is necessary to elucidate the specific relations between hormonal change during puberty and risk for disordered eating. In particular, there is a need for longitudinal studies with multivariate measurement of pubertal development, including direct measures of change in reproductive hormones.
No preview · Article · Nov 2014 · International Journal of Eating Disorders
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Few periods of the life span are as dynamic, tumultuous, and emotionally salient as puberty. The combination of biological and social change during this transition contributes to sweeping shifts in the prevalence and nature of psychopathology. In this article, I highlight the role of puberty in psychological well-being, reviewing both individual and population-wide trends in psychological symptoms and disorders. Emphasis is on three domains associated with maturation: typicality of symptoms, epidemiological shifts, and individual differences.
No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Child Development Perspectives
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study used a behavioral genetic design to test whether three measures of pubertal timing moderated peer influence on risk-taking in a sample of 248 female adolescent twin pairs (Mage = 16.0, SD = 1.5) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Peer influence was operationalized as the quasi-causal association between girls' self-reported risk-taking and the risk-taking reported by their friends. Girls with earlier ages at menarche and who perceived themselves as more developed than peers were more susceptible to peer influence on risk-taking. However, age-standardized ratings of body changes did not moderate peer influence. This study highlights distinctions between multiple measures of pubertal timing, using an innovative synthesis of genetically informative data and peer nomination data.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2014 · Journal of Research on Adolescence
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dramatic physical and emotional changes mark puberty as one of the most important transitions of the human life span. To date, the majority of psychological studies on puberty have focused on pubertal timing, or when children mature relative to their peers. Yet understanding why puberty is meaningful requires adequate attention to multiple domains of developmental variation. The current article outlines four additional aspects of puberty relevant to health and well-being: tempo, synchrony, secular trends, and perceived development.
No preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Current Directions in Psychological Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Girls who experience earlier pubertal timing relative to peers also exhibit earlier timing of sexual intercourse and more unstable sexual relationships. Although pubertal development initiates feelings of physical desire, the transition into romantic and sexual relationships involves complex biological and social processes contributing both to physical maturation and to individual interpretations of pubertal experiences. Using a sample of female sibling pairs (n = 923 pairs) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the present study investigated associations among menarche and perceived pubertal timing, age of first sexual intercourse (AFI), and adolescent dating and sexual behavior using a behavioral genetic approach. Genetic factors influencing age at menarche and perceived pubertal timing predicted AFI through shared genetic pathways, whereas genetic factors related only to perceived pubertal timing predicted engagement in dating, romantic sex, and nonromantic sex in the previous 18 months. These results suggest that a girl's interpretation of her pubertal timing beyond objective timing is important to consider for the timing and the contexts of romantic and reproductive behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
No preview · Article · Mar 2014 · Developmental Psychology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) personality disorder trait model, maladaptive behavior is located at one end of continuous scales. Widiger and colleagues, however, have argued that maladaptive behavior exists at both ends of trait continua. We propose that the role of evaluative variance differentiates these two perspectives and that once evaluation is isolated, maladaptive behaviors emerge at both ends of nonevaluative trait dimensions. In Study 1, we argue that evaluative variance is worthwhile to measure separately from descriptive content because it clusters items by valence regardless of content (e.g., lazy and workaholic; apathetic and anxious; gullible and paranoid; timid and hostile, etc.), which is unlikely to describe a consistent behavioral style. We isolate evaluation statistically (Study 2) and at the time of measurement (Study 3) to show that factors unrelated to valence evidence maladaptive behavior at both ends. We argue that nonevaluative factors, which display maladaptive behavior at both ends of continua, may better approximate ways in which individuals actually behave. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Psychological Assessment
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Youth who experience adverse environments in early life initiate sexual activity at a younger age, on average, than those from more advantaged circumstances. Evolutionary theorists have posited that ecological stress precipitates earlier reproductive and sexual onset, but it is unclear how stressful environments interact with genetic influences on age at first sex. Using a sample of 1,244 pairs of twins and non-twin full siblings from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the present study tested for gene-by-environment interactions (G × E) on age at first sex (AFS). Multivariate interaction models indicated that genetic influences on AFS were suppressed among low-socioeconomic-status (SES) and ethnic-minority compared with higher SES and ethnic-majority youth. Father absence did not uniquely moderate genetic influences on AFS. These results are broadly consistent with previous findings that genetic influences are minimized among individuals whose environments are characterized by elevated risk; however, future research would benefit from samples with larger numbers of individuals at the very low end of the SES spectrum. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Developmental Psychology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Earlier physical maturation may often be preceded by a range of adversities and life stressors. This study investigates childhood maltreatment, internalizing symptoms, and pubertal timing in girls residing in foster care (N = 100, M = 11.54 years old at Time 1). Girls were assessed at two time points 2 years apart. There were no direct effects of maltreatment on internalizing symptoms; rather, childhood sexual abuse predicted earlier pubertal development which, in turn, was associated with higher levels of internalizing symptoms concurrently and longitudinally. This distinctive role for early pubertal timing suggests that the heightened sexual circumstances of puberty may be especially disturbing for girls whose lives have already been disrupted by inappropriate and unwanted sexual experiences.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Journal of Research on Adolescence
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adolescent dating and sexual activity are consistently associated with risk for depression, yet the pathways underlying this association remain uncertain. Using data on 1,551 sibling pairs (ages 13-18) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the current study utilized a sibling comparison design to assess whether adolescent dating, sexual intercourse with a romantic partner, and sexual intercourse with a nonromantic partner were associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms independent of familial factors. Results indicated that adolescent dating, in and of itself, was not associated with depressive symptoms. The association between depressive symptoms and sexual activity with a romantic partner was fully accounted for by between-family genetic and shared environmental confounds. In contrast, sexual activity with a nonromantic partner was significantly associated with both mean levels of depressive symptoms and clinically severe depression, even within sibling dyads. This relationship was greater for younger adolescents (<15 years). These results are consistent with a growing body of research demonstrating that relationship contexts may be critical moderators of the psychosocial aspects of adolescent sexual experiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Though often discussed as a discrete event, puberty comprises one segment of a larger developmental continuum and is notable for rapid transformation across a multitude of domains. While an earlier timing of puberty relative to peers stands as one of the most well-replicated antecedents of adolescent difficulties for girls, findings have been less consistent for boys’ development. The current review synthesizes the research on pubertal timing and psychosocial development in adolescent boys. Results are evaluated in the context of three theoretical perspectives by which precocious development is believed to affect the emergence of adverse outcomes: biological, psychosocial and selection.
No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · Developmental Review
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study investigated pubertal development in girls with maltreatment histories (N = 100), assessed at four time points over 2 years beginning in the spring of their final year of elementary school. This sample is unique, in that participants were subject to an unusual level of environmental risk early in life and resided in foster care at the start of the study. Analyses replicated the previously established association between sexual abuse and earlier onset of maturation and earlier age at menarche. Physical abuse was related to a more rapid tempo of pubertal development across the period assessed. These results strengthen previous investigations of childhood maltreatment and puberty, highlighting the complexity and specificity of early life experiences for later development.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Journal of Research on Adolescence
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The physical changes of puberty coincide with an increase in the salience of peer relationships and a growing risk for depression and other forms of psychopathology. Previously, we reported that pubertal tempo, defined as a child's rate of intraindividual change in pubertal status (measured using parent-reported Tanner stages; Marshall & Tanner, 1970), was associated with changes in boys'--but not girls'--depressive symptoms over and above effects explained by pubertal timing (Mendle, Harden, Brooks-Gunn, & Graber, 2010). The present study extends this previous research by examining changes in the quality of peer relationships in the association between individual differences in pubertal development and change in boys' depressive symptoms. Boys (N = 128, M = 9.61 years, SD = 0.70, at Time 1) were recruited from public schools and assessed annually for 4 years. Results from latent growth curve models indicated that earlier pubertal timing and more rapid pubertal tempo were associated with greater decrements in the quality of boys' peer relationships. After accounting for the association between change in peer relationships and depressive symptoms, the direct effects of pubertal timing and tempo on depressive symptoms were no longer significant. These results highlight a multifaceted approach to studying puberty and emphasize how social mechanisms may intersect with biological risk to produce psychological distress.
No preview · Article · Nov 2011 · Developmental Psychology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early pubertal timing in girls is associated with elevated risk for dieting and eating pathology. The relative importance of biological versus socio-environmental mechanisms in explaining this association remains unclear. Moreover, these mechanisms may differ between objective measures of pubertal development and girls' subjective perceptions of their own maturation.
The sample comprised 924 sister pairs from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Objective pubertal timing (menarcheal age), girls' perceptions of pubertal status and timing relative to peers, dieting and disordered eating behaviors were assessed during a series of confidential in-home interviews.
Behavioral genetic models indicated that common genetic influences accounted for the association between early menarcheal age and increased risk for dieting in adolescence. In contrast, girls' subjective perceptions of their timing relative to peers were associated with dieting through an environmental pathway. Overall, subjective and objective measures of pubertal timing accounted for 12% of the variance in dieting.
Genetic differences in menarcheal age increase risk for dieting among adolescent girls, while girls' perceptions of their maturation represent an environmentally mediated risk.
Preview · Article · Jun 2011 · Psychological Medicine
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Academic achievement and cognitive ability have been shown to predict later age at first sexual intercourse. Using a sample of 536 same-sex twin pairs who were followed longitudinally from adolescence to early adulthood, this study tested whether relations between intelligence, academic achievement, and age at first sex were due to unmeasured genetic and environmental differences between families. Twins who differed in their intelligence or their academic achievement did not differ in their age at first sex. Rather, the association between intelligence and age at first sex could be attributed entirely to unmeasured environmental differences between families, whereas the association between academic achievement and age at first sex could be attributed entirely to genetic factors.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2011 · Child Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Early pubertal timing places girls at elevated risk for a breadth of negative outcomes, including involvement in delinquent behavior. While previous developmental research has emphasized the unique social challenges faced by early maturing girls, this relation is complicated by genetic influences for both delinquent behavior and pubertal timing, which are seldom controlled for in existing research. The current study uses genetically informed data on 924 female-female twin and sibling pairs drawn from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to (1) disentangle biological versus environmental mechanisms for the effects of early pubertal timing and (2) test for gene-environment interactions. Results indicate that early pubertal timing influences girls' delinquency through a complex interplay between biological risk and environmental experiences. Genes related to earlier age at menarche and higher perceived development significantly predict increased involvement in both nonviolent and violent delinquency. Moreover, after accounting for this genetic association between pubertal timing and delinquency, the impact of nonshared environmental influences on delinquency are significantly moderated by pubertal timing, such that the nonshared environment is most important among early maturing girls. This interaction effect is particularly evident for nonviolent delinquency. Overall, results suggest early maturing girls are vulnerable to an interaction between genetic and environmental risks for delinquent behavior.
No preview · Article · Jun 2011 · Journal of Abnormal Psychology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Menarche is a discrete, transitional event that holds considerable personal, social, biological, and developmental significance. The present longitudinal study examined both the transition and timing of menarche on the trajectory of anxiety in girls with histories of childhood maltreatment (N = 93; 63% European American, 14% multiracial, 10% Latino, 9% African American, and 4% Native American). We hypothesized that because menarche is a novel, unfamiliar experience, girls would show greater anxiety around the time of menarche. The anxiety-provoking nature of menarche may be accentuated among earlier-maturing girls and girls with histories of childhood sexual abuse. Results indicated that earlier-maturing girls were more anxious in the pre- and peri-menarche periods than their later-maturing peers; however, their anxiety declined after menarche. Childhood sexual abuse was associated with heightened anxiety throughout this transition. The developmental significance of the timing and transition of menarche in relation to childhood sexual abuse and anxiety is discussed.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · Journal of Youth and Adolescence