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Intergenerational Transmission of Adaptive Functioning: A Test of the Interactionist Model of SES and Human Development

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  • This research is currently supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute of Mental Health (HD047573, HD051746, and MH051361). Support for earlier years of the study also came from multiple sources, including the National Institute of Mental Health (MH00567, MH19734, MH43270, MH59355, MH62989, and MH48165), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA05347), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD027724), the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health (MCJ-109572), and the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Adolescent Development Among Youth in High-Risk Settings.

concerning this article should be addressed to Thomas J. Schofield, Family Research Group, Suite 100, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95618. Electronic mail may be sent to tomschofield@ucdavis.edu.

Abstract

The interactionist model (IM) of human development (R. D. Conger & M. B. Donellan, 2007) proposes that the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and human development involves a dynamic interplay that includes both social causation (SES influences human development) and social selection (individual characteristics affect SES). Using a multigenerational data set involving 271 families, the current study finds empirical support for the IM. Adolescent personality characteristics indicative of social competence, goal-setting, hard work, and emotional stability predicted later SES, parenting, and family characteristics that were related to the positive development of a third-generation child. Processes of both social selection and social causation appear to account for the association between SES and dimensions of human development indicative of healthy functioning across multiple generations.

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