Does Negative Emotional Reactivity Moderate the Relation between Contextual Cohesion and Adolescent Well-Being?

Lindsay B. Myerberg, Jill Rabinowitz, Maureen D. Reynolds, Deborah A.G. Drabick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Although well-being is a chief indicator of positive mental health, much research has neglected to consider individual-specific and contextual factors that may promote this important outcome among youth. To address this gap, we examined whether neighborhood and family social cohesion are associated with well-being among youth varying in negative emotional reactivity, and whether findings were consistent with the diathesis-stress or differential susceptibility hypothesis. Participants were assessed at 3 time points: Time 1 (N = 775, M age = 10.95 ± 0.88 years; 71% male); Time 2 (n = 660, M age = 12.99 ± 0.95 years); and Time 3 (n = 633, M age = 15.50 ± 0.56 years). At Time 1, caregivers reported on family and neighborhood cohesion. Youth reported on their negative emotional reactivity at Time 2 and well-being at Time 3. Negative emotional reactivity moderated the relation between family cohesion and well-being. Among youth higher in negative emotional reactivity, lower family cohesion was associated with lower levels of well-being compared to higher family cohesion. Youth higher and lower in emotional reactivity evidenced similar levels of well-being when exposed to higher family cohesion. The findings thus support the diathesis-stress model, suggesting that less cohesive families may contribute to reduced happiness and well-being, particularly among youth with higher negative emotional reactivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019



  • Diathesis-stress model
  • Differential susceptibility
  • Family cohesion
  • Negative emotional reactivity
  • Neighborhood social cohesion
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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