• Future Orientation as a Mediating Factor in the Relation Between Family Instability and Adolescent Problem Behavior: A Moderated Mediation Model

      Taylor, Ronald D., 1958-; Overton, Willis F.; Xie, Hongling; Lester, Barry M.; Drabick, Deborah A.; Marshall, Peter J. (Temple University. Libraries, 2013)
      Adolescent delinquency represents a significant threat to the health and future of developing persons. Due to the important implications of adolescent problem behaviors, it is essential that we understand the complex mechanisms in the life and mind of a developing person that may lead to these behavior problems in adolescence. I proposed that early family instability, including residential moves and changes in household composition, would be a primary predictor of adolescent problem behaviors, including risk-taking and externalizing behaviors. This relation was predicted to be mediated by future orientation. When young children are faced with uncertainty, they may develop a shorter-term view of their own life. Therefore, family instability is predicted to influence the developing orientation to the future, which is predicted to be related to problem behaviors in adolescence. Deviant peer association and family routine were predicted to be moderators in the model. The results reveal a significant association between early family instability and adolescent externalizing behavior. This association is significant while controlling for later family instability and other demographic variables, such as socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and child IQ. This indicates that early family instability is directly related to adolescent behavior beyond the effects of continuing instability and other individual factors. Additionally, the level of future orientation was associated with adolescent risk-taking behavior for boys but not for girls. This indicates that for boys, lack of thoughts about one's future is predictive of risky behaviors in adolescence. Early family instability was not significantly related to future orientation, precluding future orientation as a mediator in the relation between early family instability and later problem behaviors. Family routine and peer deviance were not found to be significant moderators in this study. The results of this study indicate the important role family instability plays in adolescent behavior problems. These results demonstrate that experiences in the first five years of a child's life have potentially long-term effects on the individual. Additionally, future orientation appears to be a significant predictor of adolescent risk-taking behavior for boys. As risk-taking behavior may be detrimental to the individual's life and future, it is important to understand factors that predict risk taking. Future studies should examine the development of future orientation and its role in adolescent adjustment.