Christy Buchanan

buchanan@wfu.edu
Professor of Psychology
Greene Hall 449
(336) 758-5123

I am interested in factors that promote positive socio‑emotional development, especially during adolescence. Specifically, my research is aimed at understanding how characteristics of the family (e.g., family structure, family relationships, parenting styles and strategies, ethnicity) and of the individual (e.g., beliefs about development, biological change) influence adjustment during this time of life. Current research topics, and example publications and presentations for each topic, include:

Beliefs about Adolescents

I am investigating parents’ and adolescents’ beliefs about the adolescent period. What are parents’ and children’s expectations for and stereotypes about adolescence, and how do these influence parenting and parent-child relationships over the transition from childhood to adolescence? Results of my research suggest that negative stereotypes about adolescents can lead to expectations for specific children that are more negative than they should be based on the child’s history of behavior. Furthermore, results of a longitudinal study indicate that negative expectations for a young adolescent child (on the part of mothers and of the children themselves) predict more negative perceived parent-child relationships and more risk-taking and difficult behavior over time.

  • Ellingsen, R. W., & Buchanan, C. M. (in preparation). Mothers’ expectations for adolescent risk-taking as predictors of their perceived efficacy, parenting strategies, and verbal messages.
  • Buchanan, C. M., & Hughes, J. L. (2009). Construction of Social Reality During Early Adolescence: Can Expecting Storm and Stress Increase Storm and Stress? Journal of Research on Adolescence, 19, 261-285.
  • Buchanan, C. M. & Triplett, M. F. (2006). Stereotypic Beliefs about Adolescents: Parents’ and Children’s Thinking as Related to Behavior in Early to Middle Adolescence. Paper presented in P. Davis-Kean (Chair), Contexts, Individuals and Development: A tribute to Jacque Eccles. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, New Orleans, LA.
  • Buchanan, C.M. (2003). Mothers’ generalized beliefs about adolescents: Links to expectations for a specific child. Journal of Early Adolescence, 23, 29-50.
  • Whiteman, S.D., & Buchanan, C.M. (2002). Mother’s and children’s expectations for adolescence: The impact of perceptions of an older sibling’s experience. Journal of Family Psychology, 16, 157-171.
  • Buchanan, C. M. & Holmbeck, G. (1998). Measuring beliefs about adolescent personality and behavior. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27, 609-629.
  • Buchanan, C. M., Eccles, J. S., Flanagan, C., Midgley, C., Feldlaufer, H., & Harold, R. (1990). What parents and teachers believe about adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 19, 363-394.

Parenting and Adolescent Adjustment

I and several of my students and collaborators have been interested in general questions about predictors and consequences of parenting during adolescence, mechanisms of consequences, and variation in both as a function of family context. Among other things, we have examined sources of information that parents use to monitor adolescents and the impact of parenting practices such as psychological control and criticism.

  • Waizenhofer, R.N., Buchanan, C.M., & Jackson-Newsom, J. (2004). Parents’ knowledge of adolescents’ daily activities: Its sources and its links with adolescent adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology, 18, 348-360.
  • Mortensen, Y. J., & Buchanan, C. M. (April, 2005). Parent-adolescent conflict, parental criticism, and adolescent adjustment. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Atlanta, GA.
  • Rogers, K. N., Buchanan, C. M., & Winchell, M. E. (2003). Psychological control during early adolescence: Links to adjustment in different parent/adolescent dyads. Journal of Early Adolescence, 23, 349-383.

Family Processes and Adolescent Adjustment in Different Cultural and Ethnic Contexts

I have recently been involved in research that is specifically focused on understanding family processes and youth development in a variety of cultural and ethnic contexts. Recent research examines ethnic differences in emotional experiences and perceptions of parental warmth in adolescents from different ethnic groups. Also, one of my recent students examined possible selves in Latino and European American youth, and another examined adolescents’ health behaviors and attitudes in America and Italy. I have also conducted research evaluating a mentoring program for Hispanic youth. The research we did with these youth and their families has relevance for mentoring programs, but also more generally for the understanding of adolescent development among Hispanic immigrant youth.

  • Beard, H. A., & Buchanan, C. M. (in preparation). Health behaviors, beliefs, and values among adolescents from different cultures.
  • Buchanan, C. M., Mesquita, B., Polanco, S., & Sills, M. D. (in preparation). Ethnic differences in adolescents’ experience of emotions in the family.
  • Halfond, R., Buchanan, C. M., & Mesquita, B. (in preparation). Values and expectations for hoped-for and feared possible selves among Latino and European American adolescents.
  • Jackson-Newsom, J., Buchanan, C. M., & McDonald, R. (2008). Parenting and perceived maternal warmth in European American and African American adolescents. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 70, 62-75.
  • Sills, M., Buchanan, C. M., Polanco, S., & Mesquita, B. (March, 2008). The development of European American and Mexican American adolescents’ emotional experiences in parent and peer contexts. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Chicago, IL.
  • Halfond, R., & Buchanan, C. M. (March, 2007). Values and expectations for hoped-for and feared possible selves among Latino and European American adolescents. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Boston, MA.
  • Sills, M. D., Buchanan, C. M., Halfond, R., Smith, S. S., & Snyder, J. C. (March, 2007). The impact of quality and quantity of mentoring on developmental assets. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Boston, MA.
  • Buchanan, C. M., Williams, A. K., Halfond, R., & Snyder, J. C. (March, 2006). The impact of mentoring on developmental assets in Latino youth. Paper presented in C. M. Buchanan (Chair), The impact of mentoring of Latino youth: Academic outcomes and other developmental assets. Symposium presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Francisco, CA.
  • Williams, A., & Buchanan, C. M. (March, 2006). Parental efficacy and school involvement among Mexican-American parents: Do children’s mentors help? Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Francisco, CA.
  • Beard, H., & Buchanan, C. M. (March, 2006). Health or appearance concerns: Predictors of adolescents’ engagement in health behaviors across gender and culture. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Francisco, CA.

Divorce, Custody, and Marital Conflict

One specific area of my research on the family concerns how divorce, custody arrangements, and interparental conflict affect the relationships between adolescents and parents, and how the patterns of relationships that develop in families where parents divorce affect adolescent adjustment.

  • Buchanan, C. M., & Jahromi, P. L. (2008). A psychological perspective on shared custody arrangements. Wake Forest University Law Review, 2, 419-439.
  • Nice, R., & Buchanan, C. M. (March, 2007). Divorce, interparental conflict, and painful feelings among children from married and divorced families. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Boston, MA.
  • Buchanan, C.M., & Williams, A. (2006). Issues of visitation and custody. In G.G. Bear & K.M. Minke (Eds.), Children’s needs III: Development, prevention, and interventions (pp. 759-770). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.
  • Buchanan, C.M. (2005). Girls’ adjustment to divorce and remarriage. In D.J. Bell, S.L. Foster, & E.J. Mash (Eds.), Handbook of behavioral and emotional problems in girls (pp. 415-438). New York: Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers.
  • Buchanan, C. M., & Waizenhofer, R. (2001). The impact of interparental conflict on adolescent children: Considerations of family systems and family structure. In A. Booth, A. C. Crouter, & M. Clements (Eds.), Couples in conflict (pp. 149-160). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, Inc.
  • Buchanan, C.M., & Heiges, K.L. (2001). When conflict continues after the marriage ends: Effects of post-divorce conflict on children. In J.H. Grych & F.D. Fincham (Eds.), Interparental conflict and child development (pp. 337-362). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
  • Buchanan, C. M. (2000). The impact of divorce on adjustment during adolescence. In R. D. Taylor & M. Wang (Eds.), Resilience across contexts: Family, work, culture, and community (pp. 179-216). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Buchanan, C.M., Maccoby, E.E., & Dornbusch, S.M. (1996). Adolescents after divorce. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Monahan, S. C., Buchanan, C. M., Maccoby, E. E., & Dornbusch, S. M. (1993). Sibling differences in divorced families. Child Development, 64, 152-168.
  • Buchanan, C. M., Maccoby, E. E., & Dornbusch, S. (1992). Adolescents and their families after divorce: Three residential arrangements compared. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 2, 261-291.
  • Buchanan, C. M., Maccoby, E. E., & Dornbusch, S. (1991). Caught between parents: Adolescents’ experience in divorced homes. Child Development, 62, 1008-1029.

Development of Civic Attitudes During Adolescence

I am interested in understanding the positive developments that take place during adolescence and how these can be enhanced. One way this interest has manifested itself in my research lab is through studies of the development of civic attitudes and goals. We are currently involved in a variety of research projects examining adolescents’ community- versus self-oriented attitudes and goals, and how are these influenced by such things as family attitudes and behaviors, service experiences, or school requirements for service.

  • Jahromi, P. L., & Buchanan, C. M. (in preparation). The relation between community service and civic attitudes and intentions among adolescents required to do service.
  • Wolfson, M., Buchanan, C. M., Flanagan, C., & Song, E. Y. (in preparation). Adolescents’ engagement in political activity.
  • Buchanan, C. M., Jahromi, P. L., Kourmanova, R., Smith, C. E., Austin, A. T., Kennedy, S., P., & Ellingsen, R. W. (March, 2008). Service experiences and the development of civic values and intentions among high school students required to do service. Paper presented in L. R. Sherrod (Chair), Civic Values in Adolescence. Symposium presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Chicago, IL.
  • Ellingsen, R. W., & Buchanan, C. M. (March, 2008). Parenting practices and adolescents’ civic development. Paper presented in S. M. McHale (Chair), Positive Development in Adolescence: Family Influences and Correlates. Student poster symposium presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Chicago, IL.

Emotional Changes During Puberty and Their Links to Biological Change

I am interested in the patterns of actual emotional and behavioral change during the adolescent years, and how these are related to physical changes (as well as to family characteristics & processes as described in other sections). How do parents respond to physical changes in their children? Do reactions depend on parental expectations, family relationships, or family context?

  • Beard, H. A., & Buchanan, C. M. (March, 2004). Is parent-child closeness a moderator of the link between pubertal timing and psychosocial outcomes? Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Baltimore, MD.
  • Connolly, S. D., Paikoff, R. L., & Buchanan, C. M. (1996). Puberty: The interplay of biological and psychosocial processes in adolescence. In G. Adams, R. Montemayor, & T. Gullotta (Eds.), Psychosocial development in adolescence: Vol 8. Advances in adolescent development (pp. 259-299). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Buchanan, C. M., & FormyDuval, D. (1994). Hormones, effect on behavior. In V. S. Ramachandran (Ed.) Encyclopedia of human behavior (pp. 543-554). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.
  • Buchanan, C. M., Eccles, J. S., & Becker, J. B. (1992). Are adolescents the victims of raging hormones?: Evidence for activational effects of hormones on moods and behavior at adolescence. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 62-107.
  • Buchanan, C. M. (1991). Pubertal status in early-adolescent girls: Relations to moods, energy, and restlessness. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11, 185-200.