Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-6c8bd87754-wzh95 Total loading time: 0.599 Render date: 2022-01-21T03:41:36.870Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Systems theory and cascades in developmental psychopathology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 June 2010

Martha J. Cox*
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Roger Mills-Koonce
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Cathi Propper
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Jean-Louis Gariépy
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
*
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Martha J. Cox, Psychology Department and Center for Developmental Sciences, 216 Davie Hall, CB 3270, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3270; E-mail: martha_cox@unc.edu.

Abstract

In the wake of prominent theoreticians in developmental science, whose contributions we review in this article, many developmental psychologists came to endorse a systems approach to understanding how the individual, as it develops, establishes functional relationships to social ecological contexts that from birth to school entry rapidly increase in complexity. The concept of developmental cascade has been introduced in this context to describe lawful processes by which antecedent conditions may be related with varying probabilities to specified outcomes. These are understood as processes by which function at one level or in one domain of behavior affect the organization of competency in later developing domains of general adaptation. Here we propose a developmental sequence by which the developing child acquires regulative capacities that are key to adjustment to a society that demands considerable control of emotional and cognitive functions early in life. We report empirical evidence showing that the acquisition of regulative capacities may be understood as a cascade of shifts in control parameters induced by the progressive integration of biological, transactional, and socioaffective systems over development. We conclude by suggesting how the developmental process may be accessed for effective intervention in populations deemed “at risk” for later problems of psychosocial adjustment.

Type
Regular Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Auerbach, J., Faroy, M., Ebstein, R., Kahana, M., & Levine, J. 2001. The association of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) gene and the serotonin transporter promoter gene (5-HTTLPR) with temperament in 12-month-old infants. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 42, 777783.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Auerbach, J., Geller, V., Letzer, S., Shinwell, R., Belmaker, R., Levine, J., et al. (1999). Dopamine D4 receptor (D4DR) and serotonin transporter promoter (5-HTTLPR) polymorphisms in the determination of temperament in two month old infants. Molecular Psychiatry, 4, 369373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bakermans-Kranenburg, M., & van IJzendoorn, M. (2006). Gene–environment interaction of the dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) and observed maternal insensitivity predicting externalizing behavior in preschoolers. Developmental Psychobiology, 48, 406409.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bakermans-Kranenburg, M., & van IJzendoorn, M. (2008). Oxytocin receptor (OXTR) and serotonin transporter (5-HTT) genes associated with observed parenting. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 3, 128134.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Barry, R., Kochanska, G., & Philibert, R. (2008). G × E interaction in the organization of attachment: Mothers' responsiveness as a moderator of children's genotypes. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 13131320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bell, K., & Calkins, S. (2000). Relationships as inputs and outputs of emotion regulation. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 160163.Google Scholar
Belsky, J. (1984). The determinants of parenting: A process model. Child Development, 55, 8396.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Belsky, J., & Pluess, M. (2009). Beyond diathesis stress: Differential susceptibility to environmental influences. Psychological Bulletin, 135, 885908.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Berlin, L., & Cassidy, J. (2003). Mothers' self-reported control of their preschool children's emotional expressiveness: A longitudinal study of associations with infant–mother attachment and children's emotion regulation. Social Development, 12, 477495.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blair, C., & Diamond, A. (2008). Biological processes in prevention and intervention: The promotion of self-regulation as a means of preventing school failure. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 899911.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Bowlby, J. (1969). Disruption of affectional bonds and its effects on behavior. Canada's Mental Health Supplement, 59, 12.Google Scholar
Brody, G., Beach, S., Philibert, R., Chen, Y., & Murry, V. (2009). Prevention effects moderate the association of 5-HTTLPR and youth risk behavior initiation: Gene × Environment hypotheses tested via a randomized prevention design. Child Development, 80, 645661.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buss, A., Plomin, R., & Willerman, L. (1973). The inheritance of temperaments. Journal of Personality, 41, 513524.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cairns, R. B. (1983). The emergence of developmental psychology. In Mussen, P. H. (Ed. & Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. History, theory, and methods (4th ed., pp. 41102). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
Cairns, R. B., McGuire, A., & Gariépy, J. L. (1993). Genetics and behavior: Fusion, correlated constraints and timing. In Hay, D. & Angold, A. (Eds.), Precursors and causes of development and psychopathology (pp. 87122). Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
Calkins, S. (1994). Origins and outcomes of individual differences in emotion regulation. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59, 5372.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Calkins, S., & Fox, N. (2002). Self-regulatory processes in early personality development: A multilevel approach to the study of childhood social withdrawal and aggression. Development and Psychopathology, 14, 477498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Calkins, S., & Hill, A. (2007). Caregiver influences on emerging emotion regulation: Biological and environmental transactions in early development. In Handbook of emotion regulation (pp. 229248). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Cassidy, J. (1994). Emotion regulation: Influences of attachment relationships. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59, 228283.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Caughy, M. O., Owen, M. T., & Hurst, J. R. (2009, April). Early poverty experience and the growth of academic skills in elementary school: The modifying role of self-regulatory capacity. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Denver, CO.Google Scholar
Cole, P., Martin, S., & Dennis, T. (2004). Emotion regulation as a scientific construct: Methodological challenges and directions for child development research. Child Development, 75, 317333.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cole, P., Michel, M., & Teti, L. (1994). The development of emotion regulation and dysregulation: A clinical perspective. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59, 73.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cox, M. J., & Paley, B. (1997). Families as systems. Annual Review of Psychology, 48, 243267.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cox, M. J., & Paley, B. (2003). Understanding families as systems. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12, 193196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Crockenberg, S., & Leerkes, E. (2000). Infant social and emotional development in family context. In Zeenah, C. H. Jr (Ed.), Handbook of infant mental health (2nd ed., pp. 6090). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Denham, S., Blair, K., Schmidt, M., & DeMulder, E. (2002). Compromised emotional competence: Seeds of violence sown early? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 72, 7082.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Diener, M., Mengelsdorf, S., McHale, J., & Frosch, C. (2002). Infants' behavioral strategies for emotion regulation with fathers and mothers: Associations with emotional expressions and attachment quality. Infancy, 3, 153174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ebstein, R. P., Levine, J., Geller, V., Auerbach, J., Gritsenko, I., & Belmaker, R. H. (1998). Dopamine D4 receptor and serotonin transporter promoter in the determination of neonatal temperament. Molecular Psychiatry, 3, 238246.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Emde, R., Plomin, R., Robinson, J., & Corley, R. (1992). Temperament, emotion, and cognition at fourteen months: The MacArthur Longitudinal Twin Study. Child Development, 63, 14371455.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Entwisle, D. R., & Alexander, K. L. (1993). Entry to school: The beginning school transition and the educational stratification in the United States. Annual Review of Sociology, 19, 401422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Field, T. (1994). The effects of mother's physical and emotional unavailability on emotion regulation. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59, 208.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Fox, N., & Calkins, S. (2003). The development of self-control of emotion: Intrinsic and extrinsic influences. Motivation and Emotion, 27, 726.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gerhart, J., & Kirshner, M. (1997). Cells, embryos, and evolution: Toward a cellular and developmental understanding of phenotypic variation and evolutionary adaptability. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Gariepy, J. L. (1996). The question of continuity and change in development. In Cairns, R. B., Elder, G. H. Jr., & Costello, E. J. (Eds.), Developmental science (pp. 7896). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gariépy, J.-L., Rodriguiz, R. M., & Jones, B. D. (2002). Handling, genetic, and housing effects on the mouse stress system, behavior, and dopamine function. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 73, 717.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gervai, J., Novak, A., Lakatos, K., Toth, I., Danis, I., Ronai, Z., et al. (2007). Infant genotype may moderate sensitivity to maternal affective communications: Attachment disorganization, quality of care, and the DRD4 polymorphism. Social Neuroscience, 2, 307319.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Goldsmith, H., & Gottesman, I. (1981). Origins of variation in behavioral style: A longitudinal study of temperament in young twins. Child Development, 52, 91103.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gottlieb, G. (1976). Conceptions of prenatal development: Behavioral embryology. Psychological Review, 83, 215234.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gottlieb, G. (2007). Probabilistic epigenesis. Developmental Science, 10, 111.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Gottlieb, G., Wahlsten, D., & Lickliter, R. (2006). The significance of biology for human development: A developmental psychobiological systems view. In Lerner, R. M. (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Theoretical models of human development (Vol. 1, 6th ed., pp. 210257). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
Gunnar, M., & Donzella, B. (2002). Social regulation of the cortisol levels in early human development. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 27, 199220.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Haley, D., & Stansbury, K. (2003). Infant stress and parent responsiveness: Regulation of physiology and behavior during still-face and reunion. Child Development, 74, 15341546.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hofer, M. A. (1994). Early relationships as regulators of infant physiology and behavior. Acta Paediatrica Supplements, 397, 918.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Isabella, R. (1993). Origins of attachment: Maternal interactive behavior across the first year. Child Development, 64, 605621.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Izard, C. E., Schultz, D., Fine, S. E., Youngstrom, E., & Ackerman, B. P. (1999/2000). Temperament, cognitive ability, emotion knowledge, and adaptive social behavior. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 19, 305330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kobak, R. (1999). The emotional dynamics of disruptions in attachment relationships: Implications for theory, research, and clinical intervention. In Cassidy, J. & Shaver, P. R. (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 2143). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Kochanska, G., Philibert, R. A., & Barry, R. A. (2009). Interplay of genes and early mother–child relationship in the development of self-regulation from toddler to preschool age. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 13311338.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Kopp, C. B. (1982). Antecedents of self-regulation: A developmental perspective. Developmental Psychology, 18, 199214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kuo, Z. Y. (1967). The dynamics of behavior development. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
Lengua, L. J., Bush, N. R., Long, A. C., Kovacs, E. A., & Trancik, A. M. (2008). Effortful control as a moderator of the relation between contextual risk factors and growth in adjustment problems. Development and Psychopathology, 20, 509528.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Lerner, R. M. (2002). Concepts and theories of human development. New York: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Magnusson, D., & Bergman, L. R. (1990). A pattern approach to the study of pathways from childhood to adulthood. In Robins, L. N. & Rutter, M. (Eds.), Straight and devious pathways from childhood to adulthood (pp. 101115). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Magnusson, D., & Cairns, R. B. (1996). Developmental science: Toward a unified framework. In Cairns, R. B., Elder, G. H. Jr., & Costello, E. J. (Eds.), Developmental science (pp. 730). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Main, M. (1990). Cross-cultural studies of attachment organization: Recent studies, changing methodologies, and the concept of conditional strategies. Human Development, 33, 4861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Masten, A. S., Roisman, G. I., Long, J. D., Burt, K. B., Obradovic, J., Roley, J. R., et al. (2005). Developmental cascades: Linking academic achievement and externalizing and internalizing symptoms over 20 years. Developmental Psychology, 41, 733746.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Meaney, M., & Szyfe, M. (2005). Environmental programming of stress responses through DNA methylation: Life at the interface of a dynamic environment and a fixed genome. Dialogues in Neuroscience, 7, 103123.Google Scholar
Mills-Koonce, W. R., Propper, C., Gariépy, J. L., Blair, C., Garrett-Peters, P., & Cox, M. J. (2007). Bidirectional genetic and environmental influence on mother and child behavior: The family system as the unit of analyses. Development and Psychopathology, 19, 10731087.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moore, G. A., Hill, A. L., Propper, C. B., Calkins, S. D., Mills-Koonce, W. R., & Cox, M. J. (2009). Mother–infant vagal regulation in the face-to-face still-face paradigm is moderated by maternal sensitivity. Child Development, 82, 209223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mullin, B. C., & Hinshaw, S. P. (2007). Emotion regulation and externalizing disorders in children and adolescents. In Gross, J. J. (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (pp. 523541). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2004). Affect dysregulation in the mother–child relationship in the toddler years: Antecedents and consequences. Development and Psychopathology, 16, 4368.Google Scholar
NICHD Early Child Care Research Network. (2008). Mothers' and fathers' support for child autonomy and early school achievement. Developmental Psychology, 44, 895907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
O'Connor, T., Deater-Deckard, K., Fulker, D., Rutter, M., & Plomin, R. (1998). Genotype–environment correlations in late childhood and early adolescence: Antisocial behavioral problems and coercive parenting. Developmental Psychology, 34, 970981.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Plomin, R., & Rowe, D. (1977). A twin study of temperament in young children. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and Applied, 97, 107113.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Pluess, M., & Belsky, J. (2009). Differential susceptibility to parenting and quality child care. Developmental Psychology, 46, 379390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Propper, C., & Moore, G. (2006). The influence of parenting on infant emotionality: A multi-level psychobiological perspective. Developmental Review, 26, 427460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Propper, C., Moore, G. A., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Halpern, C. T., Hill-Soderlund, A. L., Calkins, S. D., et al. (2008). Gene–environment contributions to the development of infant vagal reactivity: The interaction of dopamine and maternal sensitivity. Child Development, 79, 13781395.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Propper, C., Willoughby, M., Halpern, C., Carbone, M., & Cox, M. (2007). Parenting quality, DRD4, and the prediction of externalizing and internalizing behaviors in early childhood. Developmental Psychobiology, 49, 619632.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rimm-Kaufman, S. E., Early, D. M., Cox, M. J., Gitanjali, S., Pianta, R. C., Bradley, R.H., et al. (2002). Early behavioral attributes and teachers' sensitivity as predictors of competent behavior in the kindergarten classroom. Applied Developmental Psychology, 23, 451470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rothbart, M., Ahadi, S., & Evans, D. (2000). Temperament and personality: Origins and outcomes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 122135.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Rutter, M., Moffitt, T. E., & Caspi, A. (2005). Gene–environment interplay and psychopathology: Multiple varieties but real effects. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47, 226261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sameroff, A. J. (1983). Developmental systems: Context and evolution. In Mussen, P. H. (Ed.) & Kessen, W. (Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. History, theory, and methods (4th ed., pp. 237294). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
Sameroff, A. J. (2000). Developmental systems and psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology, 12, 297312.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Schneirla, T. C. (1957). The concept of development in comparative psychology. In Harris, D. B. (Ed.), The concept of development (pp. 78108). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
Schore, A. (2001). Effects of a secure attachment relationship on right brain development, affect regulation, and infant mental health. Infant Mental Health Journal, 22, 766.3.0.CO;2-N>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, C., Calkins, S., & Keane, S. (2006). The relation of maternal behavior and attachment security to toddlers' emotions and emotion regulation. Research in Human Development, 3, 2131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Spangler, G., & Zimmermann, P. (2007, March 30). Genetic contribution to attachment disorganization and temperament. Paper presented at the 2007 Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development.Google Scholar
Spemann, H. (1927). Organizers in animal development. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 102, 177187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sroufe, L. (1996). Emotional development: The organization of emotional life in the early years. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sroufe, L. (2000). Early relationships and the development of children. Infant Mental Health Journal, 21, 6774.3.0.CO;2-2>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sroufe, L. (2005). Attachment and development: A prospective, longitudinal study from birth to adulthood. Attachment & Human Development, 7, 349367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sroufe, L., Egeland, B., Carlson, E., & Collins, W. (2005). The development of the person: The Minnesota study of risk and adaptation from birth to adulthood. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Steele, H., Steele, M., & Croft, C. (2008). Early attachment predicts emotion recognition at 6 and 11 years old. Attachment & Human Development, 10, 379393.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Suomi, S. J. (2006). Risk, resilience, and Gene × Environment interactions in rhesus monkeys. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1094, 5262.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Thelen, E., & Smith, L. B. (1998). Dynamic systems theories. In Damon, W. (Ed. & Series Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical models of human development (pp. 595625). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
Thelen, E., & Smith, L. (2006). Dynamic systems theories. In Lerner, R. M. (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 1. Theoretical models of human development (6th ed., pp. 258312), Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
Thompson, R. (1994). Emotion regulation: A theme in search of definition. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, 59, 2552.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van IJzendoorn, M., & Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. (2006). DRD4 7-repeat polymorphism moderates the association between maternal unresolved loss or trauma and infant disorganization. Attachment & Human Development, 8, 291307.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
van IJzendoorn, M., Bakermans- Kranenburg, M., & Mesman, J. (2008). Dopamine system genes associated with parenting in the context of daily hassles. Genes, Brain & Behavior, 7, 403410.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
von Bertalanffy, L. (1968). General systems theory. New York: Braziller.Google Scholar
Weinfield, N., Sroufe, L., Egeland, B., & Carlson, E. (1999). The nature of individual differences in infant–caregiver attachment. In Handbook of attachment: Theory, research, and clinical applications (pp. 6888). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Wiebe, S., Espy, K., Stopp, C., Respass, J., Stewart, P., Jameson, T., et al. (2009). Gene–environment interactions across development: Exploring DRD2 genotype and prenatal smoking effects on self-regulation. Developmental Psychology, 45, 3144.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
85
Cited by

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Systems theory and cascades in developmental psychopathology
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Systems theory and cascades in developmental psychopathology
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Systems theory and cascades in developmental psychopathology
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *