Christy Buchanan
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 practices, 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

A focal area of research over many years has been parents’ and adolescents’ beliefs about the adolescent period. I am interested in parents’ and children’s expectations for and stereotypes about adolescence, and how 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.   Parents’ negative expectations consistent with stereotypes predict a decline in parenting self-efficacy over the years that children move into adolescence, above and beyond the child’s actual negative behavior.  Furthermore, 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.

  • Glatz, T. & Buchanan, C. M. (2015). Change and predictors of change in parental self-efficacy from early to middle adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 51, 1367-1379.
  • 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 examined a range of questions about predictors and consequences of parenting during adolescence, mechanisms of consequences, and variation in both as a function of family culture and context. Among other things, we have examined the impact of parenting self-efficacy on parenting and young adolescent behavior; ethnic differences in the relation between parenting practices and adolescents’ perceptions of parental warmth; sources of information that parents use to monitor adolescents; and the impact of parenting practices such as psychological control and parental involvement.

  • Buchanan, C. M., & Bobbitt, S. G. (in press). Parenting for adolescent well-being in the American Indian community.  In U. Wiethaus, C. Beasley, & M. A. Jacobs (Eds.), American Indian Women of Proud Nations.  NY: Peter Lang Publishers.
  • Glatz, T., & Buchanan, C. M. (2015). Over-time associations among parental self-efficacy, promotive parenting practices, and adolescents’ externalizing behaviors. Journal of Family Psychology, 29, 427-437. doi: 10.1037/fam0000076.
  • Kiang, L., & Buchanan, C. M. (2014). Same-day and lagged associations between daily stress and emotional well-being among Asian American adolescents.  Developmental Psychology, 50, 611-621.
  • Buchanan, C. M., Grzywacz, J. G., & Costa, L. N. (2013).  Maternal beliefs and parenting among southern African-American mothers of adolescents (pp. 190-221).  In A.S. Parent Jr. & U. Wiethaus. (Eds.), Trauma and resilience in American Indian and African American southern history (pp. 190-221).  NY:  Peter Lang Publishers.
  • 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.
  • Dore, R. A., Stone, E. R. & Buchanan, C. M. (2014). A social values analysis of parental decision making. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 148, 477-504,
  • 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.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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 and Engagement During Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

I am interested in understanding the positive developments that take place during adolescence and emerging adulthood and how these can be enhanced. One way this interest has manifested itself in my research lab is through studies of how culture and educational experiences (at both the secondary school and college level) are related to civic attitudes and engagement during adolescence and emerging adulthood.

  • Harriger, K., McMillan, J., Buchanan, C. M., & Gusler, S. (in press, 2015).  The long term impact of learning to deliberate.  Diversity and Democracy. (Special issue on Student and Institutional Engagement in Public Life).
  • Harriger, K., McMillan, J., Buchanan, C. M., & Gusler, S. (in press, 2016).  The value of longitudinal assessment:  The impact of the Democracy Fellows Program over time.  In T. J. Shaffer & N. V. Longo (Eds.), Deliberative Pedagogy and Democratic Engagement:  Making Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Relevant to the Adaptive Challenges in Our Communities.  Michigan State Univ. Press.
  • Ballard, P. J., Caccavale, L., & Buchanan, C. M. (2015). Civic orientation in cultures of privilege: What role do schools play? Youth & Society. 47, 70-94.  DOI: 10.1177/0044118X14538464
  • Jahromi, P., Crocetti, E., & Buchanan, C. M. (2012). A cross-cultural examination of adolescent civic engagement: Comparing Italian and American volunteerism and political involvement.  Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community, 40, 22-36.
  • Crocetti, E., Jahromi, P., & Buchanan, C. M. (2012). Commitment to community and political involvement:  A cross-cultural study with Italian and American adolescents.  Human Affairs: Postdisciplinary Humanities & Social Sciences Quarterly, 22, 375-389.  DOI: 10.2478/s13374-012-0031-2

Emotional Changes During Puberty and Their Links to Biological Change

I have been 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?

  • 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.


  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Child Development and Social Policy
  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Contemporary Issues in Adolescent Development
  • Seminar in Developmental Psychology (Graduate Level)
  • Vienna’s Psychologists (taught in Vienna, Spring 2001)