Physiological reactivity moderates the association between parental directing and young adolescent friendship adjustment

Kelly M. Tu, Stephen A. Erath, Gregory S. Pettit, Mona El-Sheikh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study examined whether the longitudinal association between parental directing of friendships (i.e., encouraging or discouraging certain friendships) and young adolescents' friendship adjustment (i.e., friendship quality and friends' positive characteristics) was moderated by skin conductance level reactivity (SCLR) to peer stress. Participants included 123 young adolescents (M age = 12.03 years at Time [T]1; 50% boys; 58.5% European Americans). At T1 (summer before the transition to middle school), parents reported on the extent to which they directed adolescents toward or away from certain peers, and adolescents' SCLR was assessed during a lab-based peer evaluation task. At T1 and T2 (spring of the first year of middle school), adolescents reported on the quality of their friendships and positive peer affiliations. Controlling for T1 friendship adjustment, parental directing predicted higher friendship quality and more positive peer affiliations, but only among young adolescents with lower SCLR, which was conceptualized as a marker of underarousal and insensitivity to stress. Results are discussed with reference to the developmental period of early adolescence and related research on interactions between parental control and child characteristics as predictors of adolescent adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2644-2653
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2014


  • Early adolescence
  • Friendship adjustment
  • Parental directing
  • SCLR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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