Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow

Laura Di Giunta

Sapienza University of Rome

Research focus
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.

What have I achieved during my fellowship?
I examined the association between parents’ emotionality and emotion regulation, parenting, adolescents emotionality and emotion regulation, and their future adjustment. I was able to gather new longitudinal data on both Italian (Roman) and Colombian participants (about age 16) within the ongoing Parenting Across Cultures study (PAC; PI Jen Lansford), to understand emotion-regulation-related mechanisms “in the moment” through an ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Adolescents were prompted periodically via mobile phones to respond to questions about their emotions, their behaviours, and their parents’ behaviours. This allows to examine daily adolescents’ emotional reactions and how such reactions predict youths’ adjustment. Membership in PAC allows examination of longitudinal predictors (e.g., when children were 10 years old) and outcomes (i.e., we recently finalized the data collection in which those youths are 18 years old). I also was able to implement a new data collection with a clinical sample of children and adolescents (age 10-18 years old) gathering EMA data correspondent to the before mentioned ones, adding physiological data related to youth emotionality and emotion regulation (e.g., heart rate variability and cortisol awakening response). I also examined parental emotional socialization practices (i.e., how parents react to their children’s emotionality and emotion regulation).

My plans for the future
I would like to answer empirically to the following questions:

– Is the association between self-efficacy beliefs about emotion regulation and adolescent adjustment similar or different across different cultural contexts? What are the characteristics of specific cultural contexts that explain such similarities or differences?

– What is the association over time and across cultures between the frequency of specific emotions, the strategies adolescents use to deal with those emotions, their self-efficacy beliefs in dealing with those emotions and executive functions?

– How do children and adolescents develop their self-efficacy beliefs about emotion regulation? How does the experience of being raised by harsh versus warmth mothers and fathers from different cultural contexts influence adolescent emotion regulation, executive functions, and self-efficacy beliefs about emotion regulation? How do the experience of being psychologically controlled or being supported by parents in granting independence and autonomy promote efficient adolescent brain functioning in terms emotion regulation, executive functions, and self-efficacy beliefs about emotion regulation?