ADRENARCHE DURING THE GREAT RECESSION AS AN ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGE TO PSYCHOSOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: AN EVOLUTIONARY-DEVELOPMENTAL PERSPECTIVE Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
Creator
  • Nehler, Chelsea
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Abstract
  • Adrenarche is an important developmental period to consider in relation to both physical and psychosocial outcomes. The reorganization of the stress response system during adrenarche, understood as physiological adjustment to environments that may vary from safe and supportive to unsafe and unsupportive, not only results in specific physiological patterns of response to stress, but also leads to specific social, sexual, emotional, and parenting behavioral profiles. In this dissertation, I elaborated on the connections between adverse developmental contexts and the development of behavior problems in children and adolescents using the Adaptive Calibration Model of Stress Responsivity. I used the Great Recession of 2007-2009 as a natural window to examine how changes in economic circumstances-the introduction of economic adversity-can affect the life course, especially when experienced during adrenarche. I hypothesized that declining wealth in general and during adrenarche would not only predict behavior problems in adolescence, but it would also affect menarche and physical development, such that sexual maturation would be a mediator of wealth and psychosocial adjustment. To test these hypotheses, I used nationally representative panel data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and child-level information from the Child Development Supplement of the PSID. The final sample included 767 adolescents and their households. When compared with persistently low levels of wealth, declines in household wealth in a "middle class" were associated with behavioral problems among children who experienced the stressor during adrenarche, and with earlier pubertal timing among children who experienced the stressor in later childhood. The results' implications are discussed both in terms of their practical application to child welfare, their contribution to evolutionary-developmental theory, and their insights regarding wealth inequality in the United States.
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Advisor
  • Gariépy, Jean-Louis
  • Ornstein, Peter
  • Kurtz-Costes, Beth
  • Bardone-Cone, Anna
  • Ammerman, Alice
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018
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