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Is More Always Better? The Relation Between Socioeconomic Status and Human Development

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Socioeconomic status (SES) is one of the most well researched constructs in developmental science, yet important questions underly how to best model it. That is, are relations with SES always in the same direction or does the direction of association

Socioeconomic status (SES) is one of the most well researched constructs in developmental science, yet important questions underly how to best model it. That is, are relations with SES always in the same direction or does the direction of association change at different levels of SES? In this dissertation, I conducted a meta-analysis using individual participant data (IPD) to examine two questions: 1) Does a nonmonotonic (quadratic) model of the relations between components of SES (i.e., income, years of education, occupation status/prestige), depressive symptoms, and academic achievement fit better than a monotonic (linear) model? and 2) Is the magnitude of relation moderated by developmental period, gender/sex, or race/ethnicity? I hypothesized that there would be more support for the nonmonotonic model. Moderation analyses were exploratory.
I identified nationally representative IPD from the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). I included 59 datasets, which represent 23 studies (e.g., Add Health) and 1,844,577 participants. Higher income (β = -0.11; β = 0.10), years of education (β = -0.09; β = 0.13), and occupational status (β = -0.04; β = 0.04) and prestige (β = -0.03; β = 0.04) were associated with a linear decrease in depressive symptoms and increase in academic achievement, respectively. Higher income (β = 0.05), years of education (β = 0.02), and occupational status/prestige (β = 0.02) were quadratically associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms followed by a slight increase at higher levels of income and a diminishing association towards higher levels of education and occupational status/prestige. Higher income was also quadratically associated with academic achievement (β = -0.03). I found evidence that these associations varied between developmental periods and racial/ethnic samples, but I did not find evidence of variation between females and males.
I integrate these findings with three conclusions: (1) more is not always better and (2) there are unique contexts and resources associated with different levels of SES that (3) operate in a dynamic fashion with other cultural systems (e.g., racism), which affect the integrated actions between the individual and context. I outline several measurement implications and limitations for future research directions.

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Date Created
2021

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The Psychological Consequences of Not Being Oneself

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Drawing upon the theoretical framework of Cooley’s (1902) “looking-glass self” model, the current study examined how affective dimensions of parenting in adolescence contribute to psychopathology in early adulthood through the mediating mechanism of authenticity – one’s level of comfort with

Drawing upon the theoretical framework of Cooley’s (1902) “looking-glass self” model, the current study examined how affective dimensions of parenting in adolescence contribute to psychopathology in early adulthood through the mediating mechanism of authenticity – one’s level of comfort with being oneself. Using latent profile analysis (LPA), a three-class solution was identified, classifying inadequate, adequate, and optimal profiles of parenting in adolescence. Class membership was used in a multilevel mediation structural equation model to examine longitudinal links with authenticity and psychopathology (e.g., internalizing, externalizing, and substance abuse disorders) in early adulthood. Results demonstrated that optimal compared to inadequate parent-adolescent relationship quality was directly linked to higher levels of authenticity, which in turn, was directly linked to lower levels of all forms of psychopathology in early adulthood. Results also indicated that authenticity fully mediated the link between profiles of parent-adolescent relationship quality (e.g., grade 12) and internalizing, externalizing, and substance abuse disorders in early adulthood (e.g., four years post-college). In conclusion, the current study demonstrated the influence of affective dimensions of parenting profiles in adolescence on the development of psychopathology in early adulthood via the mediating mechanism of authenticity. Moreover, findings from the current study suggest that authenticity is a critical feature shared in common among various forms of psychopathology. Finally, clinical implications are discussed regarding the potential effectiveness of evidence-based psychotherapies aimed at the promotion of authenticity as a mechanism for improving mental health and well-being.

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Date Created
2021