Katherine J Conger

University of California, Davis, Davis, California, United States

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Publications (57)96.68 Total impact

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    Full-text · Dataset · Feb 2016
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research suggests that economic stress disrupts perceived romantic relationship quality; yet less is known regarding economic stress’s direct influence on negative behavioral exchanges between partners over time. Another intriguing question concerns the degree to which effective problem solving might protect against this hypothesized association. To address these issues, we studied two generations of couples who were assessed approximately 13 years apart (Generation 1: N = 367, Generation 2: N = 311). On average and for both generations, economic pressure predicted relative increases in couples’ hostile, contemptuous, and angry behaviors; however, couples who were highly effective problem solvers experienced no increases in these behaviors in response to economic pressure. Less effective problem solvers experienced the steepest increases in hostile behaviors in response to economic pressure. Because these predictive pathways were replicated in both generations of couples it appears that these stress and resilience processes unfold over time and across generations.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2016 · Journal of Marriage and Family
  • Christina Rogers Hollifield · Katherine Jewsbury Conger
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Life satisfaction during emerging adulthood is important because it promotes positive psychological functioning and prevents risky behaviors that lead to poor health. Self-determination theory emphasizes the agentic nature of individuals to maintain well-being through the psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, and the social contexts which influence these processes. Because siblings serve as an emotional resource throughout the lifespan, sibling support may predict well-being through these psychological needs. With this framework as a guide, 337 individuals from the Family Transitions Project reported sibling support at 17-years-old, sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness at 19-years-old, and life satisfaction at 20-years-old. Sibling support in adolescence was significantly associated with autonomy, competence, relatedness and life satisfaction in emerging adulthood. Sense of competence mediated the association between sibling support and later life satisfaction; results highlight the unique influence of siblings in contributing toward life satisfaction.
    No preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Emerging Adulthood
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research increasingly finds that race/ethnicity needs to be taken into account in the modelling of associations between protective factors and adolescent drinking behaviors in order to understand family effects and promote positive youth development. The current study examined racial/ethnic variation in the prospective effects of family cohesion on adolescent alcohol-related problems using a nationally representative sample. Data were drawn from the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and included 10,992 (50 % female) non-Hispanic Asian, non-Hispanic Black, Latino, and non-Hispanic White 7th-12th graders. Consistent with Hirschi's social control theory of youth delinquency, higher levels of family cohesion predicted lower levels of future adolescent alcohol-related problems, independent of race/ethnicity, sex, age, baseline alcohol-related problems, and family socioeconomic status. Findings from moderation analyses indicated that the magnitude of associations differed across groups such that the protective effect of family cohesion was strongest among White adolescents. For Latino adolescents, family cohesion was not associated with alcohol-related problems. Future longitudinal cross-racial/ethnic research is needed on common and unique mechanisms underlying differential associations between family processes and adolescent high-risk drinking. Understanding these processes could help improve preventive interventions, identify vulnerable subgroups, and inform health policy aimed at reducing alcohol-related health disparities.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Journal of Youth and Adolescence
  • Michelle T Dang · Katherine J Conger · Joshua Breslau · Elizabeth Miller
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study explored the presence and characteristics of natural mentors among 197 homeless youth and the association between natural mentoring relationships and youth functioning. Few studies have explored protective factors in the lives of homeless youth and how these may buffer against poor health outcomes. Relationships with natural mentors have been shown to have protective effects on adolescent functioning among the general adolescent population, and, thus, warrant further investigation with homeless youth. Results from this study revealed that 73.6% of homeless youth have natural mentoring relationships, split between kin and non-kin relationships. Having a natural mentor was associated with higher satisfaction with social support and fewer risky sexual behaviors. Findings suggest that natural mentors may play a protective role in the lives of homeless youth and should be considered an important source of social support that may enhance youth resilience.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2014 · Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While an accumulating body of research has documented increased risk of psychopathology among children of depressed fathers, most studies have used cross-sectional design, and little is known about offspring outcomes beyond childhood. Using prospective data from a community sample (N = 395), we found that paternal depressive symptoms when children were in early adolescence (age 13) predicted offspring depressive and anxiety symptoms at age 21, controlling for baseline youth symptoms, maternal depressive symptoms, and other known correlates of internalizing problems in early adulthood. Associations were not moderated by maternal depressive symptoms or child gender. These results suggest that the unique and long-term effects of paternal depression on children's risk of mood disorders may persist into adulthood.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2014 · Journal of Research on Adolescence
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    Joyce Serido · Charles Lawry · Gu Li · Katherine J. Conger · Stephen T. Russell
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined concurrent and prospective associations of financial stress (financial strain, lack of financial access, public assistance) and parenting support factors (relationship quality, living at home, financial support) with young adults’ alcohol behaviors (alcohol use, heavy drinking, and problematic drinking) over a 5-year period. Analyses of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) data (N = 7,159) showed that, over the study period, alcohol use and heavy drinking declined while problematic drinking increased. In addition, living at home and parental relationship quality were associated with fewer concurrent and prospective alcohol behaviors whereas financial strain and parents’ financial support were associated with more alcohol behaviors. The implications for minimizing alcohol misuse in young adults amid uncertain economic conditions are discussed.
    Preview · Article · Sep 2013 · Journal of Family and Economic Issues
  • Katherine Jewsbury Conger
    No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Journal of Adolescent Health
  • Ben T Reeb · Katherine J Conger · Monica J Martin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Depression in fathers has been associated with impaired parenting, which, in turn, may function as a central environmental mechanism underlying the adverse effects of paternal depression on children's development. Despite this, evidence suggests that many depressed fathers are able to maintain positive relationships with their children, and little is known about factors associated with better or worse parenting outcomes when fathers experience depression. Using two waves of prospective, longitudinal data from a community sample of fathers and their high school-aged adolescent offspring (N = 324), perceived economic strain was examined as a moderator of the effect of fathers' depressive symptoms on subsequent observer ratings of hostile parenting behaviors. Among fathers experiencing high levels of economic strain, depressive symptoms at offspring age 15 were a significant predictor of hostility toward their adolescent sons at age 18, controlling for family demographics and previous hostile parenting behaviors. Findings and directions for future research are discussed in relation to contemporary models of intergenerational psychopathology transmission. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
    No preview · Article · Mar 2013 · Journal of Family Psychology
  • Chelsea H Leyton · Ben T Reeb · Katherine J Conger
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the effect of parental depression on offspring adjustment has crucial implications for public health. Fathers have been historically underrepresented in this literature, and continue to be, although a growing body of work has associated paternal depression with negative outcomes in adolescents including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and aggression. Research has only begun to examine the mechanisms underlying the familial transmission of risk for depression and surprisingly few studies have examined factors which may moderate the effects of parental depression on offspring outcomes, especially among families with depressed fathers. As a consequence, little is known about how and why fathers' depression places offspring
    No preview · Chapter · Dec 2012
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    Chelsea H Leyton · Ben T Reeb · Katherine J Conger
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the effect of parental depression on offspring adjustment has crucial implications for public health. Fathers have been historically underrepresented in this literature, and continue to be, although a growing body of work has associated paternal depression with negative outcomes in adolescents including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and aggression. Research has only begun to examine the mechanisms underlying the familial transmission of risk for depression and surprisingly few studies have examined factors which may moderate the effects of parental depression on offspring outcomes, especially among families with depressed fathers. As a consequence, little is known about how and why fathers' depression places offspring
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012
  • Katherine Jewsbury Conger · Martha A. Rueter · Rand D. Conger
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This chapter presents research from the Iowa Youth and Families Project (IYFP), a longitudinal study of Iowa families who were living in small towns and on farms during the farm crisis of the 1980s. The research was designed to assess how the macrosocial change and economic upheaval that occurred across the US during the 1980s influenced family functioning and the well-being of parents and their children. The 1st section of the chapter describes the empirical and theoretical foundations for the Family Stress Model. The sections that follow summarize findings from the IYFP and other studies relevant to the various processes and mechanisms proposed in the Family Stress Model. The authors also consider research on hypothesized protective mechanisms or dimensions of vulnerability that may moderate the causal linkages proposed in the theoretical model. After reviewing the possible applied significance of this work, they close with a discussion of conclusions that can be drawn from the research conducted thus far and the implications of these findings for future investigations of family economic stress. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
    No preview · Article · Oct 2012
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated the degree to which parent positive personality characteristics in terms of conscientiousness, agreeableness and emotional stability predict similar adolescent personality traits over time as well as the role played by positive parenting in this process. Mothers and fathers of 451 White adolescents (52% female, mean age = 13.59 years) were assessed on three occasions, with 2-year lags between each assessment. Parent personality and observed positive parenting both predicted 12(th) graders personality. Additionally, we found evidence for an indirect link between parent personality and later adolescent personality through positive parenting. The results suggest that parents may play a significant role in the development of adolescent personality traits that promote competence and personal well-being across the life course.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Merrill-Palmer Quarterly
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Economic hardship and its consequences were examined across 3 generations of rural Midwestern families. Information from parents (G1) and adolescents (G2) from 556 families indicated that economic hardship experienced during adolescence predicted economic hardship in young adulthood, and this process was linked to developmental outcomes of the 3rd generation (G3). Five individual and family factors decreased the association between parents' and offspring economic hardship over a 10-year period. G1 economic hardship decreased G2's association with conventional peers, participation in extracurricular activities, later educational attainment, and parents' assistance with college. G1 hardship also was associated with adolescent personality traits such as higher negative emotionality and lower conscientiousness. Taken together, the results indicate that economic hardship in the 1st generation diminishes the personal and social resources of youth, thus increasing risk for hardship in the next generation. This process appears to be repeating for the children of the G2 young adults.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2012
  • Michelle Dang · Katherine Conger · Joshua Breslau · Elizabeth Miller
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: Prior studies have found that natural mentoring relationships can be a significant protective factor for adolescents, but the role of natural mentors has not been explicitly examined among runaway homeless youth (RHY). This study explores the presence of important non-parental adults or natural mentors among RHY and associations with social connectedness, self-esteem, and health status. Methods: Youth ages 14 21 who were currently homeless or have experienced homelessness in the past 12 months (N = 144) were recruited from community agencies that serve RHY. Participants completed audio computer-assisted interview (ACASI) surveys about natural mentors, connectedness, self-esteem, health risk behaviors, and health status. Descriptive, bivariate, and multiple regression analyses were conducted. Results: Majority of participants (73.6%) reported having natural mentors; 41.9% non-kin, 26.4% kin, and 4.9% foster parents. Fifty-eight percent have known their mentors longer than one year and 45.8% connect with their mentors at least weekly. A natural mentoring relationship was associated with higher satisfaction in social support even with controlling for family connectedness. Those who were more connected with their mentors reported higher self-esteem, lower psychological distress, and higher levels of family connectedness. Conclusion: Despite being marginalized, many RHY in this study are connected with non-parental adults who may serve as a critical source of social support. Findings have implications for public health nurses in promoting resilience among RHY by recognizing the contributions of important non-parental adults and exploring practices and policies to encourage meaningful connections among vulnerable youth and caring adults in the community.
    No preview · Conference Paper · Nov 2011
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using data from a sample of 673 Mexican Origin families, the current investigation examined the degree to which family supportiveness acted as a protective buffer between neighborhood disorder and antisocial behavior during late childhood (i.e. intent to use controlled substances, externalizing, and association with deviant peers). Children’s perceptions of neighborhood disorder fully mediated associations between census and observer measures of neighborhood disorder and their antisocial behavior. Family support buffered children from the higher rates of antisocial behavior generally associated with living in disorderly neighborhoods. An additional goal of the current study was to replicate these findings in a second sample of 897 African American families, and that replication was successful. These findings suggest that family support may play a protective role for children living in dangerous or disadvantaged neighborhoods. They also suggest that neighborhood interventions should consider several points of entry including structural changes, resident perceptions of their neighborhood and family support.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2011 · American Journal of Community Psychology
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    Ben T Reeb · Katherine J Conger
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Children and adolescents living in rural communities may be at particular risk for psychiatric problems, yet factors associated with mental health service use in these populations are not clear. This study examined the role of father warmth in offspring psychological treatment utilization in community sample of rural families (n = 298). Observer ratings of paternal warmth were examined as a predictor of adolescent treatment seeking and as a moderator of the longitudinal association between adolescent depressive symptoms and treatment seeking. Paternal warmth was a marginally significant predictor of adolescent mental health service use. The association between adolescent depressive symptoms and treatment seeking varied as a function of paternal behavior; adolescents were more likely to seek needed help in the context of a warm, supportive father. These findings suggest that fathers can play an important role in the intrafamilial processes through which rural adolescents recognize and seek help for their psychological problems.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011 · Journal of Pediatric Psychology
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose of Study The purpose of the present study is to examine whether relationships with natural mentors and levels of social connectedness in various contexts have protective effects on the health and psychosocial functioning of runaway and homeless youth (RHY). These protective mechanisms have not been explicitly examined with RHY. The study uses the resilience framework to test for specific mechanisms underlying positive adaptation (see Figure 1 for conceptual model). Specific Aims Aim #1. Examine the presence of natural mentoring relationships, the characteristics of mentoring relationships, and levels of social connectedness among RHY. Aim #2. Determine the effects of natural mentoring relationship on health, psychological, and behavioral functioning among RHY. Aim #3. Examine the processes associated with resilience factors among RHY. The study will test three specific models of resilience: (a) compensatory model, (b) moderation model, and (c) mediation model. Rationale/Background In comparison with their housed peers, RHY report considerably higher rates of mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, victimization, sexual exploitation, and risky sexual behaviors (Rew, 2008; Unger et al., 1998). Past research on RHY has primarily focused on the antecedents and consequences associated with homelessness and deviant peer networks. Few studies have explored protective factors within the social networks of RHY and how they may buffer against poor health and developmental outcomes (Kidd & Shahar, 2008; Rew & Horner, 2003; Rice, Stein, & Milburn, 2008). Enduring relationships with natural mentors have been associated with multiple positive developmental and behavioral outcomes and were found to be protective against consequences of childhood adversities and negative peer influences (Werner & Smith, 2001; Zimmerman, Bingenheimer, & Notaro, 2002). Even though natural mentors are commonly identified by adolescents, we currently have very limited understanding regarding the role of natural mentors and the nature of these relationships in the lives of RHY. Methods Participants (N = 300, 14-21 year-olds) are recruited from multiple entry points through a collaborative effort with community agencies that serve RHY and various street locations. From the 300 participants, fifty with natural mentors are recruited to participate in individual qualitative interviews about the characteristics of these relationships. Youth under 18 provide their own consents in order to avoid potential harm to youth with histories of parental abuse and/or neglect. Results Study is in progress. Preliminary data will be presented. Implications of Study The present study addresses a significant gap in the literature about the role of natural mentors and levels of social connectedness among RHY. Understanding the role of important adults in the lives of RHY could have important policy implications in recognizing the vital contributions of positive nonparental relationships, supporting the continuation of these relationships, and developing strategies to connect youth with known, caring adults. Figure 1. Conceptual model of study. Dotted arrows represent moderating effects.
    No preview · Conference Paper · Apr 2011
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    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The interactionist model (IM) of human development (R. D. Conger & M. B. Donellan, 2007) proposes that the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and human development involves a dynamic interplay that includes both social causation (SES influences human development) and social selection (individual characteristics affect SES). Using a multigenerational data set involving 271 families, the current study finds empirical support for the IM. Adolescent personality characteristics indicative of social competence, goal-setting, hard work, and emotional stability predicted later SES, parenting, and family characteristics that were related to the positive development of a third-generation child. Processes of both social selection and social causation appear to account for the association between SES and dimensions of human development indicative of healthy functioning across multiple generations.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Child Development
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    Ben T Reeb · Katherine J Conger · Ed Y Wu
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examined the longitudinal relationship between paternal depressive symptoms, paternal hostility, and adolescent functioning in a community sample of 451 families. Paternal depressive symptoms were a strong predictor of adolescent outcome, even after controlling for family demographic variables, maternal depressive symptoms, and previous adolescent symptoms. Adolescent gender and perception of paternal hostility moderated this association such that females reporting high paternal hostility were particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of paternal depressive symptoms. Maternal and paternal depressive symptoms had an additive, rather than interactive, effect on adolescent functioning. These results contribute to our knowledge of the interpersonal processes by which depression runs in families and highlight the importance of including fathers in developmental research on adolescent internalizing problems.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2010 · Fathering A Journal of Theory Research and Practice about Men as Fathers

Publication Stats

3k Citations
96.68 Total Impact Points


  • 2009-2015
    • University of California, Davis
      • Department of Human and Community Development
      Davis, California, United States
    • Alpert Medical School - Brown University
      Providence, Rhode Island, United States
  • 1994-1999
    • Iowa State University
      • Department of Sociology
      Ames, Iowa, United States
  • 1990-1993
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Department of Sociology
      North Carolina, United States