Adolescents’ perceptions of family social status impact mental health

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January 06, 2020

2 minutes to read

Disclosures: Odgers reports support for an advanced research grant from the Jacobs Foundation and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Please see the study for relevant financial information from all other authors.


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Candice odgers

According to the results of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Even among siblings who grow up in the same family, where family income and resources are the same, the perceptions of young people about their family’s situation indicate whether they will make the transition to adulthood.” Candice Odgers, PhD, from the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of California at Irvine, told Healio Psychiatry. “Although it is not possible to sort out cause and effect in this study, the results indicate that it is necessary to test whether the change in perception of young people about their place in society can help them. to climb the social and economic ladders. “

According to Odgers and colleagues, previous research has largely focused on the subjective social status of adults and its association with mental and physical health problems. While there is little research on the role of subjective social status earlier in life, they found a meta-analysis that found fewer reported mental health issues among adolescents who perceived their families to be in. higher socio-economic or social status. To fill this research gap, Odgers and colleagues used a co-twin design to test whether adolescents with identical family backgrounds but who had higher perceptions of their family’s social status than their siblings from the same. age and same sex experienced increased well-being in early and late adolescence. The researchers obtained data from 2,232 British twins who were included in the representative cohort of the longitudinal study of twins on environmental risks and followed throughout their first 20 years of life. Perceptions of subjective family social status in late adolescence were significantly correlated with many indicators of health and well-being, including anxiety, conduct problems, crime, depression, marijuana use, and optimism. The researchers controlled for objective socioeconomic status both statistically and by conception of co-twins and reported that the results remained. They also found little support for “the biological anchoring of adolescent perceptions of family social status as indexed by inflammatory biomarkers or cognitive tests in late adolescence, or for subjective family social status in late adolescence. early adolescence as a robust correlate of well-being or a predictor of future problems, “they wrote.

“These results were both unexpected and encouraging – unexpected as the perceptions of young people often exceeded objective indicators of income and resources compared to key and costly indicators of well-being, and encouraging if they did. turns out that changing the way young people see themselves in society can be targeted to help them both see and move up the social ladder, ”said Odgers. – by Joe Gramigna

Disclosures: Odgers reports support for an advanced research grant from the Jacobs Foundation and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Please see the study for relevant financial information from all other authors.


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