Better, for worse, or both? Testing environmental sensitivity models with parenting at the level of individual families

Savannah Boele*, Anne Bülow, Amaranta de Haan, Jaap J A Denissen, Loes Keijsers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Web of Science)
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According to environmental sensitivity models, children vary in responsivity to parenting. However, different models propose different patterns, with responsivity to primarily: (1) adverse parenting (adverse sensitive); or (2) supportive parenting (vantage sensitive); or (3) to both (differentially susceptible). This preregistered study tested whether these three responsivity patterns coexist. We used intensive longitudinal data of Dutch adolescents (N = 256, M-age = 14.8, 72% female) who bi-weekly reported on adverse and supportive parenting and their psychological functioning (t(mean) = 17.7, t(max) = 26). Dynamic Structural Equation Models (DSEM) indeed revealed differential parenting effects. As hypothesized, we found that all three responsivity patterns coexisted in our sample: 5% were adverse sensitive, 3% vantage sensitive, and 26% differentially susceptible. No adolescent appeared unsusceptible, however. Instead, we labeled 28% as unperceptive, because they did not perceive any changes in parenting and scored lower on trait environmental sensitivity than others. Furthermore, unexpected patterns emerged, with 37% responding contrary to parenting theories (e.g., decreased psychological functioning after more parental support). Sensitivity analyses with concurrent effects and parent-reported parenting were performed. Overall, findings indicate that theorized responsivity-to-parenting patterns might coexist in the population, and that there are other, previously undetected patterns that go beyond environmental sensitivity models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding statement:
The study and the data of“One Size Does Not Fit All” was
funded by The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO-VIDI;
ADAPT; Assessing the Dynamics between Adaptation and Parenting in Teens
452-17-011) awarded to Prof. dr. Loes Keijsers.

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