A Longitudinal Investigation of Cognitive Self-schemas across Adolescent Development

J Youth Adolesc. 2019 Mar;48(3):635-647. doi: 10.1007/s10964-018-00981-1. Epub 2019 Jan 5.


Research in developmental psychology highlights youth's self-schemas as one possible pathway to improve adolescents' functioning and promote positive developmental outcomes. Despite this, the trajectory of positive and negative self-schemas is relatively understudied. This study addresses this limitation by empirically examining the trajectory of self-schemas in a community sample of 623 youth (M = 13.04 years; 54% female; 49% African American, 4% Biracial, 47% European American) who were followed over a seven-year period. Caregivers completed measures of parenting practices, maternal rumination and negative inferential style, and adolescents completed a computerized behavioral task assessing self-schemas (i.e., mental frameworks that guide attention, interpretation, and memory of one's experiences). Multilevel growth curve modeling results demonstrated a quadratic slope for negative self-schemas and no mean-level change for positive self-schemas. These trajectories did not vary by gender or racial group. However, parenting factors differentially influenced the trajectories. Specifically, higher levels of parental involvement at baseline, or an active interest and engagement in a child's experiences and activities, related to lower levels of negative self-schemas during adolescence. Additionally, higher levels of parental rumination and parental negative control at baseline related to lower levels of youth positive self-schemas at baseline. These findings contribute to models of youth cognitive development.

Keywords: Adolescence; Cognitive Self-Schemas; Longitudinal; Self-referent Encoding.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Adolescent Development*
  • Child
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology
  • Parents
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Concept*