RESEARCH at HDFS
Attending College with Diabetes: Issues Discussed at Internet Social Forums
Dr. Russell Ravert
has conducted several studies examining content posted at public internet-based social forums devoted to chronic illness. Currently, along with a faculty colleague and doctoral student, he is collecting and analyzing forum messages regarding the college experience of individuals with diabetes. Ravert’s premise is public web-based content is a form of naturalistic data that can provide authentic insight into challenges faced by individuals with chronic illness, and importantly, how they have found ways to successfully manage those challenges. This descriptive study involves content analysis of messages posted at eight public diabetes-related web-based social forums in order to identify common themes found in support/information requests and responses regarding preparing for and attending college with diabetes.
Caregiving for an Ex: The Experience of Women Providing Care for Ex-Husbands
After several decades of high divorce rates and falling remarriage rates, a growing share of older adults have experienced divorce and are unmarried. Social scientists warn that this demographic trend may result in many older men being left without a designated family caregiver—no wife and possibly strained relationships with offspring, after divorce. Who will they turn to for care in times of need? According to a New York Times
news story, former spouses are increasingly stepping in to meet this need and "the presence of former spouses at the hospital or deathbed isn’t uncommon anymore." Drs. Teresa Cooney
and Christine Proulx
are co-investigators of an exploratory study aimed at understanding more about this phenomenon from the perspective of women caregiving for ex-husbands. They are in the process of interviewing a projected sample of approximately 30 women about their experience of caregiving for an ex-husband. They hope that this study will start to answer why these women assume the caregiver role, identify the unique challenges these women face in caregiving, assess the adequacy of both informal and formal support in such care situations, and a variety of other important issues.
Children's Short-term Memory
A study by Louis Manfra
is designed to explore the interference effect of similarly nameable pictures on children’s short-term memory recall. Preschool-age children at the Child Development Lab
(CDL) on campus are asked to complete a picture matching memory game with pictures that look different but have similar nameable features (e.g., two sets of dogs holding bones) and pictures that look different and have dissimilar features (e.g., a triangle and a square). If children rely on the verbal name given to the picture set (e.g., dog with bone), they should have lower performance when the pictures have similar nameable features. If children rely more on the visual aspect of the pictures, performance should not differ between the two types of picture sets. Several specific hypotheses are being tested within this study by varying the picture sets that are presented. The study began during the Fall 2011 semester and will continue through the Spring 2012 semester. Recently, Dr. Manfra received approval from the IRB to begin a third study exploring memory for number placement (location) when preschool-age children learn the order of numbers in a linear fashion (e.g., from left to right on a board) vs. a circular fashion (e.g., clock). This study will begin during the Spring 2012 semester.
A Comparative Study of Aging Families in the United States and the Netherlands
Dr. Teresa Cooney
is currently collaborating with Dr. Pearl Dykstra of Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in a secondary analysis of national survey data from the US and the Netherlands. Their work is focused on comparing relationships between middle-aged adults and their aged parents and grown children in the two countries. Of particular interest is the involvement of middle-aged adults in providing support to other generations in the family, their feelings of obligation to support family, and the impact of providing family support on individual well-being. The comparison of findings for the two countries is framed in terms of the differing public support systems that exist in the two nations and cultural variations in values and preferences.
Developing and Maintaining Positive Relationships Postdivorce
Divorce and remarriage are relatively common occurrences for US families; about half of all marriages end in divorce, and nearly 75% of divorcing men and women remarry. An estimated one-third of all US children will live with a remarried or re-cohabiting parent before they reach adulthood. Divorce and remarriage are complex family transitions that profoundly affect individuals, their families, and communities in many ways, and these effects may last for years. Most researchers have focused on assessing the negative outcomes of family transitions. In order to more thoroughly understand adjustment of children and adults after divorce and remarriage (or cohabiting), studies of relationship development and maintenance are needed using a resilience perspective in which attempts are made to determine why some individuals and relationships function well while others struggle. Therefore, the specific aim of this multiple-project research venture is to examine how parents and children (and stepparents and stepchildren) develop and maintain family relationships. Using grounded theory methods, we are conducting several studies.
In the first study, we built a model of how and why stepchildren respond to stepparents. We found six diverse patterns by which steprelationships develop. This semester we are: (a) examining how nonresidential parents and children maintain ties together, and (b) exploring postdivorce coparenting relationships to see what makes them work well.
Dr. Marilyn Coleman is receiving funding from the Agricultural Experiment Station at MU to conduct these studies. Dr. Lawrence Ganong has received funding from the MU Research Council to support the steprelationship study. This past year, two graduate students have worked on these studies as research assistants, and two more students have worked on them as part of their research practicum experiences. This qualitative research program is ongoing until we answer all of our questions!
Selected related citations:
- Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Feistman, R., Jamison, T., & Markham, M. (in press). Communication technology and post-divorce coparenting. Family Relations.
- Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & Jamison, T. (2011). Patterns of stepchild-stepparent relationship development. Journal of Marriage and Family, 73, 396-413.
- Troilo, J., & Coleman, M. (in press). Nonresidential fathers’ identities after divorce. Family Relations.
- Weaver, S., & Coleman, M. (2010). Caught in the middle: Mothers in stepfamilies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 27, 1-22.
- Hans, J., & Coleman, M. (2009). The experiences of remarried stepfathers who pay child support. Personal Relations, 16, 597-618.
Emerging Adult Risk Attitudes
Risk-taking among adolescents and emerging adults (18-25 year olds, generally speaking) is typically discussed in terms of reckless, health endangering behaviors. The concern is warranted, given that behaviors including substance use, drinking and driving, and risky sexual behavior tend to be higher in this time of life relative to other ages. On the other hand, findings one’s path
and developing the degree of autonomy and independence often valued in modern, western societies may require some degree of exploration and willingness to take risks. Dr. Russell Ravert
is conducting research aimed at understanding emerging adult’s beliefs about what risks should be taken or avoided, and why. Ravert and a doctoral student have recently collected qualitative data regarding college students’ “philosophy of risk-taking,” and identified a set of distinct reasons the students said risks should be taken. They will soon begin piloting a measure that was created based on those results, with the hypothesis that certain attitudes are associated with reckless, health-compromising behaviors whereas others are associated with healthy, developmentally appropriate behaviors.
Healthy Relationship and Marriage Education Training (HRMET)
The Healthy Relationship and Marriage Education Training (HRMET) Project involves developing and pilot testing a marriage and relationship education curriculum, as well as in-person and distance education trainings for child welfare professionals, graduate students and other professionals, including Cooperative Extension educators, working with or preparing to work with adults and families. This curriculum will address healthy marriage and relationship skills for populations underserved in the general population and overrepresented in the child welfare system. Ultimately the project will yield a research and evidence based national training resource and curriculum that will promote the development of healthy relationships and marriages across the country.
The five-year HRMET project is funded by a $1.2 million cooperative agreement with the Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children's Bureau. Dr. Dave Schramm serves as the Project Co-Director. The project team includes Extension Specialists across eight states who are members of the National Extension Relationship and Marriage Education Network (NERMEN).For more information about the project, contact Dr. Schramm at 573-884-1995, or visit the HRMET website at http://missourifamilies.org/hrmet/index.htm.
Intergenerational and Relational Responsibilities
For two decades, we (Ganongand Coleman) have studied family obligations and responsibilities. We created the multiple segment factorial vignette method (Ganong & Coleman, 2005) to collect data for this program of research, most of which has centered on intergenerational responsibilities after divorce and remarriage. In recent years, however, we have been conducting studies on romantic partner’s responsibilities to each other. We also have been looking at the effect of blame and fault on family obligations. This research program has been funded by the National Institute of Aging (NIH), but recent research has been unfunded. Some graduate students have worked on these studies as extra-curricular activities.
Selected related citations:
- Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2010). Reciprocity in intergenerational relationships in stepfamilies. In M. Izuhara (Ed.), Ageing and intergenerational relations: Family
- Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & Rothrauff, T. (2009). Patterns of assistance between adult children and their older parents: Resources, responsibilities, and remarriage. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26, 161-178.
- Hans, J.D., Ganong, L.H., & Coleman, M. (2009). Financial responsibilities toward older parents and stepparents following divorce and remarriage. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 30, 55-66.
- Coleman, M., & Ganong, L. (2008). Normative beliefs about sharing housing with an older family member. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 66, 49-72.
- Ganong, L. (2008). Intergenerational relationships in stepfamilies. In J. Pryor (Ed.), International handbook of stepfamilies: Policy and practice in legal, research, and clinical environments (pp. 394-420). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons. Reciprocity from a global perspective (pp. 129-147). Bristol, UK: The Policy Press.
- Coleman, M., Ganong, L., & Rothrauff, T. (2007). Acculturation and Latinos/as’ beliefs about intergenerational obligations to older parents and stepparents. Journal of Intergenerational Relationships, 3, 65-82.
Maternal Directiveness and Child Outcomes: Variations by Ethnicity, Maternal Warmth, Child Age, and Child Gender
Dr. Jean Ispa’s
research has focused on child development relationships in African American, Mexican American, European American, and Russian child care and family contexts. A project that is nearing completion was inspired by previous findings indicating that high maternal control seems to be less predictive of negative child outcomes and poor mother-child relationship quality in African American than in European American families, and in girls as compared to boys. Such variation suggests that it is important to understand the ways in which control is exercised in specific ethnic groups and with daughters and sons. Accordingly, Dr. Ispa has used inductive methods to identify the exact behaviors and emotional expressions used by a sample of low-income African American mothers’ when they physically interfered in toddler play. Their toddlers’ subsequent affect and acceptance or rejection of such interference is also described. Undergraduate and graduate students have worked as assistants on this project. Projects in their early stages use Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project data to study links between maternal intrusiveness when children were toddlers with maternal controlling behavior years later, when children were aged 10. We expect that ethnicity, maternal warmth, maternal ideas about control, child gender, and child temperament will affect relations among early parenting, later parenting, and child outcomes.
Mizzou Maze Study
Dr. Louis Manfra
is conducting two studies with preschool-age children from the Child Development Laboratory
(CDL) on campus. The Mizzou Maze Study
was designed to explore children’s executive functioning with a non-verbal, gross motor task. While walking through a four-foot high maze, children are trained to understand that certain colors and symbols provide information on what direction to turn (“turning rules”) when they encounter a “fork in the road.” The colors and symbols are then changed during the test trials to determine the degree to which children perseverate the previously learned turning rules or adapt to new turning rules. This study began during the Fall 2011 semester and will run through the end of the Spring 2012 semester.
Mother and Father Stereotypes
Several years ago we conducted a study (Coleman & Ganong, 1995) about the content of stereotypes of different types of mothers (e.g., stepmothers, divorced mothers, married mothers). A few years ago, Marilyn Coleman and graduate student Jessica Troilo conducted another stereotyping study, which led to an internet study that we are conducting now with Mindy Markham and Jess Troilo.
Selected related citations:
Troilo, J., & Coleman, M. (2008) College student perceptions of the content of father stereotypes. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 218-227.
HDFS offers an educational program to divorcing and separated parents called Focus on Kids (FOK). This program is in 50 counties in Missouri under the leadership of Dr. Dave Schramm. We ask parents in FOK if they would be willing to participate in research, and many agree. We (Ganong and Coleman) conducted a mailed questionnaire study of about 325 FOK parents. Questions on the surveys were inspired in part by Fishbein’s and Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior, although applying this theory to coparenting was not the sole purpose of the study. We are analyzing and writing papers from this project with graduate students who are working on the data set and papers as either research practicum experiences or as extra-curricular activities.
Selected related citations:
- Ganong, L., Coleman, M., & McCaulley, G. (2012). Gatekeeping after Separation and Divorce. In L. Drozd and K. Kuehnle, Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court (pp. 369-398). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
- Ganong, L., Coleman, M., Stafford Markham, M., & Rothrauff, T. (2011). Predicting post-divorce coparenting communication. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 52, 1-18.
- Markham, M., Ganong, L., & Coleman, M. (2007). Coparental identity and mothers’ cooperation in coparental relationships. Family Relations, 56, 369-377.
- Markham., M.. & Coleman, M. (in press). The good, the bad, and the ugly: Divorced mothers experiences with co-parenting. Family Relations
Sibling Similarities in Sexual Experiences and Attitudes
Older siblings are important socializing agents of girls’ sexuality, yet few studies have focused on sibling similarities and differences in sexual experiences and attitudes. Even fewer studies have examined the mechanisms through which siblings are alike or different. Examining sibling similarities is important because youth are more likely to imitate their older siblings when they view them as positive role models. Consequently, sibling similarities may reveal the influence older siblings have on adolescents’ experiences and attitudes. Dr. Sarah Killoren
is conducting a study on similarities in sisters’ sexual experiences and attitudes using both survey and observational data collection procedures.
Social and Moral Development Across Cultures
All parents want their kids to grow up to be good kids—kids who treat others with respect and kindness. We also desire our kids to make a positive impact on others. Prosocial behaviors, includes such things as sharing, donating, altruism, volunteerism, are important markers of good social functioning, strong moral character, and personal health. The bases and correlates of positive social and moral development is the focus of the Positive Youth and Families lab. Various projects examine these issues using a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. Currently, there are four main lines of research: a) examining a NSF-funded, ecological-stress model of youth health and well being in Latino/as, b) studies investigating prosocial development in children and adolescents across several countries, c) studies on the temperament and parenting bases of prosocial and antisocial behaviors, and d) investigations of moral conscience and altruism in childhood and adolescence. Dr. Gustavo Carlo
and the research team conduct research in Missouri but also collaborate with scholars across the globe and across the nation.
Stayovers in Emerging Adult Relationships
Over the past fifty years, loosening social and institutional norms for intimate relationships have redefined how people proceed from casual dating to permanent commitments. Part of this change is reflected in the increasing number of couples that cohabit before marriage, or with partners that they never marry. Another, and equally interesting change, is in the behaviors of couples that are neither cohabiting nor moving decisively toward marriage. Dr. Tyler Jamison
has conducted two studies on a phenomenon called "stayovers" in which couples stay overnight together several times per week (at least 3) while retaining separate homes. A grounded theory study of the phenomenon (conducted with Larry Ganong) revealed that couples stay over for comfort, convenience, and control. They sometimes used staying over as a stopgap between casual dating and formal commitments like cohabitation or marriage. A second, survey study of 627 emerging adults (conducted with Christine Proulx) revealed that almost two-thirds of the sample (65%) had stayed over with a partner at some point. Although some had experiences with, and/or positive attitudes about cohabitation, many participants who stayed over did not expect to cohabit before marriage. We concluded that staying over may hold different meanings for emerging adults compared to full-time cohabitation. Future research will explore (a) the relationship between staying over and relationship satisfaction, stability, and commitment and (b) whether divorced parents engage in stayovers to shield their children from new partnerships.
Strong Couples, Stable Children: Building Relationship Smarts
The Strong Couples, Stable Children: Building Relationship Smarts project involves training Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS) teachers in a relationship education curriculum entitled Relationship Smarts Plus, produced by the Dibble Fund. The course consists of 14 one-hour lessons designed for adolescents between 8th-12th grade. It offers practical skills and information on critical topics ranging from attraction and dealing with rejection to communication skills and "red flags" in unhealthy relationships. The over-arching purpose of the project is to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect and the risk of maltreatment in adolescent dating relationships, and improve the probability of adolescents forming future healthy adult and parent-child relationships.
This project is funded by Missouri’s Children’s Trust Fund. Dr. Dave Schramm serves as the Project Director. Trainings in Kansas City and St. Louis have been carried out with teachers from around the state. During years 3-5, more trainings in other locations will take place. Using a quasi-experimental pre/post program design, results indicate that students who received the Relationship Smarts program showed increases in knowledge and understanding of various aspects of healthy relationships.
Understanding the Association between Spouses' Stress and Support when One Spouse has Fibromyalgia
Recent research suggests there are associations between marital quality and personal well-being for both husbands and wives in nonclinical samples, but few scientists have investigated this association in specific, medically defined populations. Approximately 2% of the population in the United States is estimated to have fibromyalgia, with a greater percent of women (5%) than men (.5%) diagnosed. Those with FMS and their spouses are at an increased risk for depressive symptoms and marital instability. Because the etiology of FMS is unknown and there is no cure, it is common for patients to incur substantial medical bills due to multiple physician visits, treatment seeking, and medication. In addition, disability often occurs alongside diagnoses of FMS, resulting in a 1-2% loss in the nation’s overall productivity. Thus, the personal and societal costs of FMS is apparent. The purpose of Dr. Christine Proulx’s
research project is to better understand the associations between spouses’ support, stress, and pain in couples in which one spouse is diagnosed with FMS. This pilot study is a combination of an eight-day at-home daily diary study and an in person lab component, in which spouses’ physiological and mood states are assessed at baseline, after a stressor event, and after a 10 minute conversation with their spouse.