Longitudinal Associations Between Emotion Regulation and Depression in Preadolescent Girls: Moderation by the Caregiving Environment

Xin Feng, Kate Keenan, Alison E. Hipwell, Angela K. Henneberger, Michal S. Rischall, Jen Butch, Claire Coyne, Debbie Boeldt, Amanda K. Hinze, Dara Babinski

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61 Scopus citations


Identifying childhood precursors for depression has been challenging and yet important for understanding the rapid increase in the rate of depression among adolescent girls. This study examined the prospective relations of preadolescent girls' emotion regulation and parenting style with depressive symptoms. Participants were 225 children and their biological mothers recruited from a larger longitudinal community study. Girls' observed positive and negative emotion during a conflict resolution task with mothers, their ability to regulate sadness and anger, and their perception of parental acceptance and psychological control were assessed at age 9. Depressive symptoms were assessed by self-report at ages 9 and 10. The results indicated interactions between child emotion characteristics and parenting in predicting later depression. Specifically, low levels of positive emotion expression predicted higher levels of depressive symptoms in the context of moderate to high parental psychological control. Low levels of sadness regulation were predictive of high levels of depressive symptoms in the context of low to moderate parental acceptance. Findings from this study support the hypothesis that the prospective association between vulnerabilities in emotion regulation and depression are moderated by the caregiving environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)798-808
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2009


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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