Publication Date

2009-01-01

Availability

Open access

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2009-10-20

First Committee Member

Jill Ehrenreich May - Committee Member

Second Committee Member

Annette M. La Greca - Mentor

Third Committee Member

Neena Malik - Outside Committee Member

Abstract

Individuals who engage in excessive reassurance seeking (constantly seeking reassurance that one is needed and valued) have higher rates of internalizing disorders. However, little research has examined excessive reassurance seeking among adolescents, particularly in a non-clinical population. Furthermore, research has not examined how close relationships in adolescence, such as best friends and romantic partners, view an adolescent?s use of excessive reassurance seeking behavior. This is particularly interesting, as best friends and romantic partners may be the primary recipients of this behavior. The current study sought to (a) examine the association between excessive reassurance seeking and internalizing symptoms among adolescents, (b) examine the agreement between adolescents? and close peers? ratings of excessive reassurance seeking as well as potential moderators of concordance, and (c) examine the association between peer ratings of excessive reassurance seeking behavior and adolescents? internalizing symptoms, both concurrently and prospectively over time. Participants included 465 adolescents (61% girls), ages 15-20 years, 64.3% Hispanic, 19.1% White non-Hispanic, 6.3% Black and 10.3% other. Participants completed the Excessive Reassurance Seeking subscale of Depressive Interpersonal Relationships Inventory, the Youth Self Report (YSR) and the Network of Relationships Inventory ? Revised. Of this larger sample, a subsample of 44 adolescents (68% female), ages 15-18, 59.1% Hispanic, 31.8% White-non-Hispanic, 2.3% Black and 6.8% mixed ethnicity or other, was used to test hypotheses related to close peer?s assessment of excessive reassurance seeking behavior. Participants also completed the YSR two months later. Data were collected as part of a larger study of adolescent peer relationships during class periods at public high schools in an urban area of the Southeast US. Data were analyzed using hierarchical linear regression techniques, controlling for demographic variables and testing the unique contributions of study variables. Regarding the first study aim that sought to examine associations between excessive reassurance seeking and adolescents? internalizing symptoms, results indicated that excessive reassurance seeking was related to internalizing symptoms concurrently, but not prospectively. Age, gender and ethnicity were found to also be significant predictors of adolescents? internalizing symptoms concurrently, but only ethnic differences emerged prospectively. Regarding the second study aim, examining the concordance between self and peer reports of excessive reassurance seeking, the agreement between self and peer reports was significant. However, further analysis revealed this association was moderated by friendship quality and informant type. Specifically, relationships with high positive quality showed concordance, as opposed to those low in positive relationship quality. Furthermore, romantic partners showed concordance in reports, but not best friends. Regarding the third study aim that sought to examine whether both self and peer reports of excessive reassurance seeking were related to adolescents? internalizing symptoms, results indicated that both self and peer reports were uniquely related to internalizing symptoms concurrently; however this was not the case prospectively. These findings suggest that certain peer informants (romantic partners, high quality relationships) may be reliable indicators of adolescents? excessive reassurance seeking behavior. This has potential implications in the assessment of adolescent internalizing symptoms and interpersonal behaviors associated with these symptoms. However, as results did not emerge in the current study over time, future research is needed to examine the developmental pathways between excessive reassurance seeking and internalizing symptoms.

Keywords

Depression; Anxiety; Peer Processes; Interpersonal Theory; Adolescents

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