Reporter Discrepancies Among Parents, Adolescents, and Peers: Adolescent Attachment and Informant Depressive Symptoms as Explanatory Factors


  • We thank the families who participated in this research and Mindy Rodenberg Cabrera for supervising data collection. We are grateful to Andres De Los Reyes and Kevin O’Grady for advice about the statistical analyses. We also thank Jay Belsky, Lisa Berlin, Carl Lejuez, Jonathan Mohr, Arietta Slade, and Susan Woodhouse for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article. This research was supported by Grant HD36635 from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development to Jude Cassidy and by a Janet W. Johnson Fellowship, a University of Maryland Graduate Student Summer Research Fellowship, and an NRSA Predoctoral Award (F31 DA027365) to Katherine Ehrlich. Portions of this research were presented at the biennial meetings of the Society for Research on Adolescence, March 2008, Chicago, IL.

concerning this article should be addressed to Katherine B. Ehrlich, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742. Electronic mail may be sent to


The issue of informant discrepancies about child and adolescent functioning is an important concern for clinicians, developmental psychologists, and others who must consider ways of handling discrepant reports of information, but reasons for discrepancies in reports have been poorly understood. Adolescent attachment and informant depressive symptoms were examined as 2 explanations for absolute and directional discrepancies about adolescent symptoms, relationships, and social behavior in a sample of 189 eleventh-grade students (mean age = 16.5 years). Adolescent attachment predicted absolute discrepancies, with greater attachment coherence associated with fewer discrepancies in reports of adolescent depressive symptoms, parent–adolescent conflict, and adolescent externalizing behavior. Parents’ but not adolescents’ depressive symptoms sometimes predicted absolute discrepancies. Mothers’ depressive symptoms and adolescent attachment predicted the direction of discrepancies for mother–peer reports only.