Effects of Puberty and Parenting on Adolescent Psychosocial Maturity and Risky Behavior Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Pettiford, Adrianne
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
  • This doctoral dissertation examines how pubertal onset and maternal sensitivity and responsiveness (MSR) affect psychosocial maturity (PSM) and risky behavior in late adolescence for male and female youth. Analyses were conducted on a subsample (N = 730) of Black, Hispanic, and White youth from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (NICHD SECCYD), an 18-year study of the implications of early child care experiences and youth development. Using structural equation modeling (SEM), this dissertation addresses several research questions: 1. Does MSR predict adolescent PSM and risk-taking?; 2. Does pubertal onset predict PSM and risk-taking?; 3. Does pubertal timing moderate the effects of MSR on PSM and risky behavior?; 4. Are the pathways linking MSR, puberty, PSM and risk-taking moderated by adolescent sex? For all youth, results are consistent with the notion that higher early adolescent MSR and increases across adolescence predicts higher PSM and lower sexual risk-taking, but not non-sexual risk-taking. Consistent with past literature, early pubertal onset was associated with higher non-sexual and sexual risk-taking, but not PSM. However, the present data show PSM is associated with lower sexual and non-sexual risk-taking. Results from a two-group SEM provide evidence in support of sex moderation. Specifically, higher grade 5 MSR predicted lower non-sexual risk-taking among girls, but not boys. Additionally, higher grade 5 MSR predicted lower non-sexual risk-taking among female, but not male youth. Pubertal onset was not predictive of PSM, but was predictive of non-sexual risk-taking in boys and sexual risk-taking in girls. Male youth but not female youth were differentially susceptible to MSR across pubertal onset. Specifically, males with later pubertal onset had the lowest PSM with low MSR and the highest PSM with high MSR. However, males with earlier pubertal onset were less sensitive to the effects of MSR. Taken together, these data suggest that the nuanced pathways linking pubertal onset and maternal sensitivity and responsiveness to adolescent psychosocial maturity and risky behavior are moderated by adolescent sex. Nevertheless, psychosocial maturity remains important in protecting against risky behavior across male and female youth.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Jones, Deborah
  • Kurtz-Costes, Beth
  • Morgan-Lopez, Antonio
  • Shanahan, Lilly
  • Cox, Martha
  • Burchinal, Margaret
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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