Socioeconomic Disadvantage, Proximal Environmental Experiences, and Socioemotional and Academic Adjustment in Early Adolescence: Investigation of a Mediated Effects Model

Robert D. Felner, Stephen Brand, David L. DuBois, Angela M. Adan, Peter F. Mulhall, Elizabeth G. Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study investigated interrelations among conditions of household socioeconomic disadvantage, proximal environmental experiences, and adaptational outcomes in a sample of 398 middle grade, early adolescents from a predominantly poor, rural area. Findings indicated that levels of disadvantage were related to both socioemotional and academic adjustment, with those from relatively disadvantaged backgrounds faring most poorly. Specifically, youth from homes in which adults were employed in low‐income, unskilled occupations were found to have lower levels of school performance and achievement compared to those from homes in which adults were employed in higher paying semi‐skilled or skilled/professional occupations. Further, youth from families in which neither parent had graduated from high school exhibited significantly worse socioemotional and academic adjustment than did those whose parents had higher educational levels. Youth who lived in relatively disadvantaged homes also reported more negative experiences of proximal environmental conditions relating to family and school contexts and greater exposure to stressful life events. Most notably, findings provided support for employing an ecological‐mediational perspective to understand patterns of linkage between socioeconomic disadvantage and levels of adjustment. Support for this viewpoint included the finding that proximal environmental experiences were significant predictors of adolescent adjustment, independent of shared variance with conditions of household disadvantage, whereas conditions of disadvantage in several instances were no longer related significantly to indices of adjustment once their association with proximal environmental conditions was taken into account. The discussion considers implications for the targeting and scope of ecologically oriented approaches to preventive intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-792
Number of pages19
JournalChild development
Volume66
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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