Laura di Giunta’s scientific work focuses on the continuity and change of individual differences that predict youths’ psychological (mal)adjustment, accounting for socialization factors, especially in regard to emotion regulation-related constructs and social competence. Her scientific contributions focus also on examining cross-cultural differences and similarities in emotion and (mal)adjustment. Her research integrates methods from personality, developmental, and quantitative psychology, with a view to identifying individual and contextual processes that promote adjustment and counteract maladjustment. Her methodological competencies pertain to longitudinal research and advanced statistics, such as latent growth curve methods and latent trajectories models.
My plans for the fellowship period
In the first and second years of the fellowship, I will gather data on Italian participants in the Parenting Across Cultures (PAC) study. Adolescents will be prompted via mobile-phones to repeatedly respond to questions about their emotions, their behaviors, and their parents’ behaviors through a method known as ecological momentary assessment (EMA). This study provides new data within the ongoing longitudinal PAC study, allowing the examination of earlier parental behaviors and setting the stage to investigate youths’ future mental health outcomes.
This will have translatable implications to enhance existing empirically-based prevention and intervention methods with children and adolescents and, consequently, to reduce the long-lasting socio-economic consequences of mental illness for individuals, families, and society.
The second and third years will be devoted to dissemination of research findings through multiple venues, including publication of peer-reviewed manuscripts in scientific journals, popular press media outlets, blogs, and the development of a project website.
This study will serve also as a pilot test of the feasibility and utility of examining the aforementioned issues through an EMA in a diverse set of countries and cultural contexts with the PAC international sample.
How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
Heightened concerns are resulting from the growing awareness of the high prevalence of mental illness, the quality of life for afflicted people and their families, and the direct and indirect costs to society. Lifetime prevalence rates in Europe for the main mental disorders are around 10% for depression, 11% for anxiety, and 2% for conduct problems. During school age, prevalence rates are around 6.5% and 7.2% for internalizing and externalizing disorders, respectively.
My work will generate new insights by clarifying emotion-regulation-related processes in adolescence, how parenting could affect these processes, and what are the mental health consequences of such processes. I will be able to advance the generalizability of these new insights by studying them in a diverse set of countries and cultural contexts, beyond the limited demographic groups in which they primarily have been studied to date.
My work will enhance existing empirically-based prevention and intervention methods with children and adolescents. Guidelines will be produced to advance professionals’ ability to more quickly identify, prevent, and ameliorate the antecedents and consequences of youths’ mental health problems, in order to reduce the long-lasting socio-economic consequences of mental illness for individuals, families, and society.