Lisa A. Serbin

Concordia University Montreal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada

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Publications (110)256.63 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study examined antecedents of autonomy support (AS) and control in a high-risk sample. One hundred mothers with their children ages 1–6 years participated. AS and control were coded during two contexts: 1) free play and 2) interference (i.e., mother completes a questionnaire while her child plays alone). Results revealed that maternal childhood histories of both aggression and social withdrawal, low SES and high psychosocial stressors (i.e., mental health issues, parental stress and lower satisfaction with social support) predicted the use of more control in a challenging interference context only. Conversely, child age and a relatively higher SES predicted the use of less control in the free play. Furthermore, child age and high SES were the sole predictors of AS in the interference and free play contexts respectively. Findings highlight the value of examining individual-person and environmental antecedents, and contextual specificity, when investigating the origins of autonomy-support and control.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2016 · Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology
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    Danielle Kingdon · Lisa A. Serbin · Dale M. Stack
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Internationally, girls outperform boys in overall school performance. The gender gap is particularly large among those in at-risk groups, such as children from families at economic disadvantage. This study modeled the academic trajectories of a low-income sample of boys and girls from the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project across the full course of schooling. Results from a multiple-group latent growth curve analysis revealed that children from this low-income sample demonstrated a significant decreasing trajectory of academic performance over time, which intensified after the transition from elementary to secondary schooling. A gender gap in academic performance emerged after the children transitioned to secondary school, with girls outperforming boys. Boys continued to experience greater academic decline than did girls across the secondary school years, and individual and family characteristics assessed in early elementary school predicted these academic trajectories. At school entry, boys showed higher levels of attention problems than did girls, which in turn predicted boys’ poorer school performance. However, boys with stronger reading skills and greater maternal school involvement during the early years of schooling were protected against declining academic performance across the secondary school years. Implications for prevention programs are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · International Journal of Behavioral Development
  • Maayan Davidov · Ariel Knafo-Noam · Lisa A. Serbin · Ellen Moss
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Views regarding children's influence on their environment and their own development have undergone considerable changes over the years. Following Bell's (1968) seminal paper, the notion of children's influence and the view of socialization as a bidirectional process have gradually gained wide acceptance. However, empirical research implementing this theoretical advancement has lagged behind. This Special Section compiles a collection of new empirical works addressing multiple forms of influential child processes, with special attention to their consequences for children's and others’ positive functioning, risk and resilience. By addressing a wide variety of child influences, this Special Section seeks to advance integration of influential child processes into myriad future studies on development and psychopathology and to promote the translation of such work into preventive interventions.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2015 · Development and Psychopathology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Socioeconomic status (SES) is relatively stable across generations, but social policies may create opportunities for upward social mobility among disadvantaged populations during periods of economic growth. With respect to expanded educational opportunities that occurred in Québec (Canada) during the 1960s, we hypothesized that children's social and academic competence would promote upward mobility, whereas aggression and social withdrawal would have the opposite effect. Out of 4,109 children attending low-SES schools in 1976-1978, a representative subsample of 503 participants were followed until midadulthood. Path analyses revealed that parents' SES predicted offspring's SES through associations with offspring's likeability, academic competence, and educational attainment. Interaction effects revealed individual risk factors that moderated children's ability to take advantage of intrafamilial or extrafamilial opportunities that could enhance their educational attainment. Highly aggressive participants and those presenting low academic achievement were unable to gain advantage from having highly educated parents. They reached lower educational attainment than their less aggressive or higher achieving peers who came from a similarly advantaged family background. Growing up with parents occupying low-prestige jobs put withdrawn boys and outgoing girls at risk for low educational attainment. In conclusion, social policies can raise SES across generations, with great benefits for the most disadvantaged segments of the population. However, children presenting with emerging psychopathology or academic weaknesses do not benefit from these policies as much as others, and should receive additional, targeted services.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Development and Psychopathology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most theoretical models of developmental psychopathology involve a transactional, bidirectional relation between parenting and children's behavior problems. The present study utilized a cross-lagged panel, multiple interval design to model change in bidirectional relations between child and parent behavior across successive developmental periods. Two major categories of child behavior problems, internalizing and externalizing, and two aspects of parenting, positive (use of support and structure) and harsh discipline (use of physical punishment), were modeled across three time points spaced 3 years apart. Two successive developmental intervals, from approximately age 7.5 to 10.5 and from 10.5 to 13.5, were included. Mother–child dyads ( N = 138; 65 boys) from a lower income longitudinal sample of families participated, with standardized measures of mothers rating their own parenting behavior and teachers reporting on child's behavior. Results revealed different types of reciprocal relations between specific aspects of child and parent behavior, with internalizing problems predicting an increase in positive parenting over time, which subsequently led to a reduction in internalizing problems across the successive 3-year interval. In contrast, externalizing predicted reduced levels of positive parenting in a reciprocal sequence that extended across two successive intervals and predicted increased levels of externalizing over time. Implications for prevention and early intervention are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Development and Psychopathology
  • No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Psychoneuroendocrinology
  • Denise Ma · Lisa Serbin · Dale Stack
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Psychoneuroendocrinology
  • Denise Ma · Lisa Serbin · Dale Stack
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Psychoneuroendocrinology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Factors that promote healthy relationships have been understudied. The objective of this study is to examine mother–child verbal and nonverbal communication (separately), relationship quality and children's positive social behaviours in an at-risk sample framed within the developmental psychopathology approach. Mothers are part of a 35-year longitudinal prospective study who, as children, were rated by peers on measures of aggression and social withdrawal. These mothers, with their own 9- to 13-year-old children, participated in conflict and game-playing tasks. Verbal and nonverbal communication were coded separately using systematic observational measures. Maternal childhood histories of aggression and withdrawal predicted poorer dyad verbal communication, relationship quality and children's positive social behaviours. Frequently displayed positive verbal and nonverbal communication were associated with better relationship quality and children's positive social behaviours. The results highlight the unique contributions of verbal and nonverbal communication to adaptive development and to promoting healthy relationships in at-risk families during middle-childhood.
    No preview · Article · Jun 2015 · European Journal of Developmental Psychology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The benefits of an autonomy supportive environment have been established as a key component in children's development at various ages. Nonetheless, research examining the outcomes of early autonomy supportive environments has largely neglected socio-emotional development. The first objective of the present longitudinal study was to examine the socio-emotional outcomes associated with maternal autonomy support during the preschool period. Second, we explored the contextual specificity of the relationships between maternal autonomy support and children's later socio-emotional outcomes. Finally, we investigated the indirect effect of maternal autonomy support on children's later socio-emotional outcomes through earlier children's socio-emotional outcomes. Sixty-six mothers and their pre-school aged children (41 girls) were followed during preschool (Time 1), elementary school (Time 2) and preadolescence (Time 3). Maternal autonomy support (Time 1) was measured in two contexts (free-play and interference task) using observational coding. Furthermore, the children's internalizing and externalizing problems as well as their social competence were measured at Times 2 and 3. The results revealed the importance of maternal autonomy support during preschool for children's later socio-emotional development, especially during challenging contexts, and the mediating role of children's socio-emotional outcomes during elementary school in the link between maternal autonomy support during the preschool years and children's later socio-emotional outcomes during preadolescence. The results highlight the contextual specificity of the relationship between maternal autonomy support and children's later socio-emotional development and reveal one of the mechanisms through which the effect of early childhood parental autonomy support on children's later socio-emotional development is carried forward over time.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Journal of Youth and Adolescence
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    Dale M. Stack · Lisa A. Serbin · Irene Mantis · Danielle Kingdon
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Family poverty and childhood adversity follow an intergenerational cycle. Children raised under conditions of social and economic disadvantage are likely to raise their own children under similar conditions. To break this cycle, we need to understand why it occurs and why children’s health and development are threatened by disadvantaged conditions of child rearing. We also need to identify protective processes, such as a healthy and supportive parent-child relationship, that may lead to positive health and development under conditions of risk. The longitudinal findings presented in this paper are a summary drawn from the published results of the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project: an ongoing, three generational, 35-year study of Montréal families from lower income neighborhoods. The original sample comprised over 4,000 school-aged children. Many of these participants are now parents, and their children have been recruited into the study. Among the long-term processes we examine are family violence, fathers’ presence versus absence in the home, and impact of parental mental health problems on children’s health and development. Drawing from an in-depth assessment of parent-child interactions from infancy to preadolescence, we show how family interaction patterns over time can help to achieve positive outcomes for children. Based on statistical modeling techniques and hierarchical regression, we illustrate the ways in which family poverty and adversity during the childhood of one generation lead to conditions of risk for poverty and adversity in the next, via stressful rearing conditions, family violence, mental and physical health problems, and long-term behavioural problems. From the opposite perspective, we identify the environmental, social, educational and behavioural factors that predict positive outcomes for many children, despite disadvantaged conditions. We also highlight the vital role that parents play in this process and how negative intergenerational patterns may be broken by positive parenting, cognitive stimulation, and environmental support across childhood.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emotion regulation is a key challenge of early childhood. The present study examined emotion regulation behaviour longitudinally from infancy to preschool. The continuity of emotion regulation was explored within the larger ecological context of maternal childhood histories of aggression and social withdrawal and maternal use of constructive and non-constructive behaviours. Forty-five mothers with childhood histories of aggression or social withdrawal from the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project, a prospective, longitudinal, intergenerational study, participated with their preschool children. Infants' emotion regulation behaviour was observed during interactions with their mothers when they were 51/2months of age. Emotion regulation in these same children as preschoolers was coded during an interference task using the Preschooler Self-Regulatory Scheme. Longitudinal findings demonstrated continuity in children's use of emotion regulation behaviours from infancy to preschool. Higher maternal childhood histories of risk, specifically social withdrawal, contributed to the prediction of preschoolers' increased attention-seeking behaviours. Mothers' use of non-constructive verbalizations predicted more maladaptive styles of emotion regulation in their preschoolers. The findings highlight the importance of helping children develop adaptive emotion regulation skills from a young age and have implications for the design of preventive intervention programmes to help parents foster children's emotion regulation abilities.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Infant and Child Development
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This investigation evaluated a multilevel model of dispositional and environmental factors contributing to the development of internalizing problems from preschool-age to school-age. In a sample of 375 families (185 daughters, 190 sons) drawn from three independent samples, preschoolers' behavioral inhibition, cortisol and gender were examined as moderators of the links between mothers' negative parenting behavior, negative emotional characteristics, and socioeconomic status when children were 3.95 years, and their internalizing problems when they were 8.34 years. Children's dispositional characteristics moderated all associations between these environmental factors and mother-reported internalizing problems in patterns that were consistent with either diathesis-stress or differential-susceptibility models of individual-environment interaction, and with gender models of developmental psychopathology. Greater inhibition and lower socioeconomic status were directly predictive of more teacher reported internalizing problems. These findings highlight the importance of using multilevel models within a bioecological framework to understand the complex pathways through which internalizing difficulties develop.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective This study examined whether parenting, specifically parental support, structure, and behavioral control, predicted early childhood health care use and moderated the negative effects of socioeconomic disadvantage. Methods A sample of 250 parent–child dyads from a longitudinal intergenerational research program participated. Results Greater parental support was associated with increased rates of nonemergency care and a higher ratio of outpatient to emergency room (ER) services, a pattern reflecting better health and service use. Support also moderated the negative effects of disadvantaged family background. Greater behavioral control by parents predicted lower rates of both nonemergency care and ER visits. Structured parenting and behavioral control were associated with lower rates of respiratory illness. Conclusions This study highlights the importance of considering parenting practices when examining variations in early childhood health and health care, and the relevance of parental behavior in designing interventions for high-risk populations.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Journal of Pediatric Psychology
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study sought to determine if exposure to common childhood medical problems (i.e., infections and atopic disorders [e.g., allergies, asthma]) may dysregulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. Longitudinal data from 96 youth were used to examine this possibility. Medical records were drawn from government databases indicating the frequency of visits to healthcare facilities for infections and atopic disorders from infancy to early adolescence. During early adolescence, participants provided salivary cortisol samples from awakening until bedtime over 2 consecutive days. Individuals with a history of increased number visits for infections across childhood displayed elevated levels of cortisol at awakening whereas individuals with childhood histories of visits for atopic disorders displayed blunted diurnal cortisol slopes. These findings build on previous research documenting associations between infections and atopic disorders and cortisol by identifying longitudinal linkages from early health problems to later HPA axis functioning. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 9999: 1-11, 2013.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Developmental Psychobiology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: Socioeconomic status (SES) predicts well-being throughout the lifespan. SES is relative stable across generations, but some socio-historical contexts may facilitate upward social mobility. For example, the Quiet Revolution occurring in the province of Qubec in the 1960s made higher education more affordable and accessible. Who benefited from this opportunity? According to the interactionist perspective (Conger & Donnellan, 2007), upward mobility should be explained by interactions between parents’ (G1) and children’s (G2) characteristics. We hypothesize that socially and academically competent children will experience upward mobility even if they are from lower-SES background, and that children from relatively higher-SES background will experience upward mobility even if they are less socially or academically competent than their peers. Method: In 1976–1978, 4109 children attending Grades 1, 4, or 7 in French-speaking schools from low-SES neighborhoods in Montreal (Qubec, Canada) were screened, and 1770 were recruited. Parents (G1) reported on their education and occupation. Children’s (G2) social behavior was measured with peer nominations of likeability, withdrawal, and aggression (PEI, Pekarik et al., 1976). School boards provided G2 standardized academic achievement scores. We retained a representative subsample of 503 G2 participants until adulthood (M age = 36.95 years), at which time they reported on their education and occupation. Average years education went up from 9.53 (G1) to 12.40 (G2). G1 and G2 neighborhood risk came from census tract data. Results: Our path analysis fit the data well (CFI = 1.00; RMSEA = .00; χ2 (22) = 18.06, p < .70). G1 SES (education, occupational prestige, neighborhood risk) predicted G2 SES through associations with G2 likeability and academic competence, and through G2 educational attainment. Regression analyses revealed significant interactions. Among children born to lower-SES parents, those who were more academically competent reached higher education than their less competent peers. Still, academically talented children from relatively higher-SES families surpassed equally competent peers from lower-SES backgrounds. Aggressive G2 participants failed to benefit from the opportunities provided by higher-SES parents to reach higher education. Withdrawal impeded on the ability of lower-SES boys to reach higher education, but it promoted lower-SES girls’ educational opportunities. Conclusion: Social mobility is influenced by a combination of G1 and G2 factors. Governmental policies to fight poverty should support children’s academic competence, and target familial risk factors associated with lower SES in parents (e.g., lack of trust in benefits of higher education; difficulty to help children with schoolwork).
    No preview · Conference Paper · May 2014
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Contact behaviours such as touch, have been shown to be influential channels of nonverbal communication between mothers and infants. While existing research has examined the communicative roles of maternal or infant touch in isolation, mutual touch, whereby touching behaviours occur simultaneously between mothers and their infants, has yet to be examined. The present study was designed to investigate mutual touch during face-to-face interactions between mothers and their 5½-month-old fullterm (n=40), very low birth weight/preterm (VLBW/preterm; n=40) infants, and infants at psychosocial risk (n=41). Objectives were to examine: (1) how the quantitative and qualitative aspects of touch employed by mothers and their infants varied across the normal periods of the still-face (SF) procedure, and (2) how these were associated with risk status. Mutual touch was systematically coded using the mother-infant touch scale. Interactions were found to largely consist of mutual touch and one-sided touch plus movement, highlighting that active touching is pervasive during mother-infant interactions. Consistent with the literature, while the SF period did not negatively affect the amount of mutual touch engaged in for mothers and their fullterm infants and mothers and their infants at psychosocial risk, it did for mothers and their VLBW/preterm infants. Together, results illuminate how both mothers and infants participate in shaping and co-regulating their interactions through the use of touch and underscore the contribution of examining the influence of birth status on mutual touch.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2014 · Infant behavior & development
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined depressogenic thinking and shame proneness as factors in the development of internalizing problems in a longitudinal sample of 174 children (99 boys, 75 girls). At 7.6-9.4 years of age (Time 1), mothers assessed general internalizing problems in their children and depressogenic thinking, shame proneness, and anxiety were assessed by child self report. At 10.2-11.8 years of age (Time 2), mothers reassessed internalizing problems, and children reported their anxiety and depression. At 12.3-13.1 years of age (Time 3), children who had been high on any Time 2 measure of internalizing problems were selected for assessment of anxiety and depressive disorders. Depressogenic thinking and shame were significantly correlated and predicted subsequent problems. Depressogenic thinking predicted internalizing problems and anxious and depressive symptoms. Shame directly predicted boys' depressive symptoms, and indirectly predicted boys' general internalizing problems and girls' social anxiety. Depressive disorders in early adolescence were predicted specifically by shame. Findings suggest that both shame and depressive thinking contribute to the development of children's internalizing problems.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2013 · Child Psychiatry and Human Development
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    Lisa A Serbin · Dale M Stack · Danielle Kingdon
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Successful academic performance during adolescence is a key predictor of lifetime achievement, including occupational and social success. The present study investigated the important transition from primary to secondary schooling during early adolescence, when academic performance among youth often declines. The goal of the study was to understand how risk factors, specifically lower family resources and male gender, threaten academic success following this "critical transition" in schooling. The study involved a longitudinal examination of the predictors of academic performance in grades 7-8 among 127 (56 % girls) French-speaking Quebec (Canada) adolescents from lower-income backgrounds. As hypothesized based on transition theory, hierarchical regression analyses showed that supportive parenting and specific academic, social and behavioral competencies (including spelling ability, social skills, and lower levels of attention problems) predicted success across this transition among at-risk youth. Multiple-mediation procedures demonstrated that the set of compensatory factors fully mediated the negative impact of lower family resources on academic success in grades 7-8. Unique mediators (social skills, spelling ability, supportive parenting) also were identified. In addition, the "gender gap" in performance across the transition could be attributed statistically to differences between boys and girls in specific competencies observed prior to the transition, as well as differential parenting (i.e., support from mother) towards girls and boys. The present results contribute to our understanding of the processes by which established risk factors, such as low family income and gender impact development and academic performance during early adolescence. These "transitional" processes and subsequent academic performance may have consequences across adolescence and beyond, with an impact on lifetime patterns of achievement and occupational success.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Journal of Youth and Adolescence
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neighborhood-level and individual-level variables from childhood and adulthood were examined in relation to alcoholism in adulthood. In 1976–1978, children from working-class neighborhood schools in Montreal, Canada participated in a study examining the outcomes of childhood behaviors. At this time, peer nominations of childhood aggression were collected. In 1999–2003, these participants were contacted during mid-adulthood (N = 676) and asked to complete measures of perception of neighborhood disorder as well as a structured clinical interview assessing their lifetime history of alcoholism. Measures of participants’ neighborhood socioeconomic status (SES) from adolescence and adulthood were retrieved from Canadian census tract data and included in the model. Findings supported an association between neighborhood disorder and alcoholism, such that perceived disorder mediated the association between census-based assessments of neighborhood SES and alcoholism, but not when examined within a larger model. These findings supported the importance of the individual's interpretation of their environment in relation to alcoholism.
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Journal of Community Psychology

Publication Stats

2k Citations
256.63 Total Impact Points


  • 1979-2015
    • Concordia University Montreal
      • • Department of Psychology
      • • Centre for Research in Human Development
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
    • State University of New York
      New York City, New York, United States
  • 2006
    • University of Ottawa
      Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 2004
    • Université de Montréal
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada