Gender differential influences of early adolescent risk factors for the development of depressive affect

Mark Stemmler, Anne C. Petersen

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9 Scopus citations


Based on a model by Cyranowski, J., et al. (2000), Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 57: 21-27, adolescents at-risk for the development of depressive symptoms were identified. Adolescents were considered at-risk if they had 2 or more of the following early adolescent risk factors: (1) insecure parental attachment, (2) anxious/inhibited temperament, (3) low instrumental coping skills, and (4) early pubertal maturation. Nonrisk adolescents had zero or just one risk factor. Using data from a 10-year longitudinal study on the development of adolescents' health, with 5 points of data assessment (i.e., 6th, 7th, 8th, 12th, and 12 + 4 follow-up), the impact of the four early adolescent risk factors on the development of emotional tone was investigated. Emotional tone was measured by the Emotional Tone Scale of the SIQYA (Petersen, A. C., et al. (1984), J. Youth Adolesc. 13: 93-111), an indicator for positive emotional tone and low depressed affect. Growth curve modeling was applied to reveal significant gender differences in level and slope for the development of emotional tone over the adolescent years. Latent Growth Curve Models can be seen as a combination consisting of repeated measures analysis of variance and autoregressive analyses to evaluate the latent change of the variables under investigation (Rovine, M. J., and Molenaar, P. C. M. (2000), Multivar. Behav. Res. 35(1): 51-88). At-risk girls revealed poorer levels of emotional tone which stayed almost at the same low level up to young adulthood (i.e., 12 + 4), indicating a long lasting impact of the specified risk factors. In contrast, at-risk boys showed poorer emotional tone in early adolescence, but at the end of adolescence boys at-risk had the same level of emotional tone as nonrisk boys. At-risk girls showed significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms at grade 12 and at 12 + 4.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-183
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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