Gregory M. Fosco
Associate Director of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center
Research interests include family systems processes underlying adolescent development (substance use, problem behavior, emotional distress, positive well-being) and understanding change processes in family-centered preventive interventions.
- Human Development and Family Studies - HDFS
- Graduate Program
- Ph.D., 2008, Clinical Psychology, Marquette University
- M.S., 2006, Child Development, University of California, Davis
- B.S., 1999, Psychology, University of California, Davis
University Park, PA 16802
1) Family systems influences on adolescent social-emotional development, psychopathology and substance use risk, and positive well-being; with emphasis on interparental, family-level, and parent-adolescent relationships.
2) Family-centered preventive interventions for youth emotional and behavioral problems; with emphasis on family change processes during interventions, intervention scale-up and embedding in settings, translation of interventions to real-world settings.
- 2017-present: Associate Director, Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University
- 2017-present: Associate Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies
- 2016-present: Courtesy Appointment, Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University
- 2013-2017: Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professor for the Study of Families
- 2011-2017: Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University
- 2010-2011: Research Associate, Child and Family Center, University of Oregon; Family Intervention Scientist, Positive Family Support Project
- 2008-2010: Postdoctoral Fellow, Child and Family Center, University of Oregon; Mentors Thomas Dishion, Ph.D. and Rob Horner, Ph.D.
In the Family PrOcess and Well-being Enrichment Research (POWER) Lab, I have been working with colleagues and students to investigate the family as a context of adolescent development with the ultimate goal of informing interventions to better serve families and youth. My research, and that of the Family POWER Lab, follows two inter-related lines of inquiry. The first line if research includes basic science focusing on understanding the family system and its influence on adolescent development. I have conducted research on adolescent social/emotional outcomes (e.g., romantic relationship competence, self-regulation), psychopathology and substance use risk, and positive well-being (e.g., subjective well-being, purpose in life). I have conducted work examining interparental conflict and relationships, family-level cohesion and conflict, and parent-child relationship quality as key facets of the family system. The second line of research has focused on family-based prevention programs, such as the Family Check-Up, on adolescent substance use, problem behaviors, and emotional distress. I am particularly interested in examining the change processes during interventions (e.g., skill acquisition, mechanisms of change) so that we can better understand how interventions work and direct future work toward optimization of programs to be more effective and efficient.
All of my work is grounded in a family systems framework, which calls for a more complex understanding of how family relationships impact adolescent development by considering a broader range of family functioning (i.e., multiple family relationships), the interconnectedness of these family processes, and the reciprocal influence processes that unfold within families over time. For more information about the Family POWER Lab, family systems theory, current research projects, or lab activities, please visit my lab website: www.gregfosco.weebly.com
The Family Life Optimizing Well-Being (F.L.O.W.) Study
The FLOW study, currently underway, applies a 21-day daily diary design to capture family dynamics as they unfold in the daily lives of adolescents and their caregivers. In this study, the family is conceptualized as a multi-faceted system in which relationships are interconnected; and includes consideration of family-level, interparental, coparenting, and parent-adolescent relationships that all exist in a dynamic system, which serves as a central context for adolescent development. We are learning more about these family relationships as they impact adolescents’ daily mood (depression, anger, anxiety, happiness), emotion regulation, and well-being (satisfaction with life, meaning and purpose in life). Perhaps more interesting is the unique ability of this study to examine how change in family relationships from day to day, or relationship dynamics, also can inform us about adolescent health and well-being.
Long-Term Analysis of Family Influences on Adolescent Development
My work, and that of my graduate students, also focuses on long-term developmental questions related to family influences on adolescent psychological adjustment, subjective well-being, and social development (peer relationships, romantic relationships) from early adolescence into early adulthood. My graduate students and I have been using data from the PROSPER project (PROmoting School-community-university Partnerships to Enhance Resilience), a large-scale effectiveness trial of preventive interventions aimed at reducing substance use initiation among rural adolescents (Spoth, Greenberg, Bierman, & Redmond, 2004). We have been using this rich dataset to understand basic family and developmental questions, related to the impact of family climate, interparental conflict, and parent-adolescent relationship quality on developmental trajectories of substance use, problem behavior, emotional distress, and romantic relationship quality.
Family-Centered Interventions: Change Processes and Implementation Issues
A second line of inquiry is related to the ways in which family-centered preventive interventions elicit change in families and adolescents. Often referred to as a question of “the black box”, I am interested in understanding mechanisms of change (e.g., family conflict, self-regulation) that can help pinpoint how and why interventions work to reduce risk for adolescent substance use, problem behavior, and emotional distress. In addition, I am interested in evaluating ways in which families are effectively engaged in interventions, both in terms of within-program processes (e.g., what motivates parents to change?) and implementation issues that facilitate effective dissemination of programs (e.g., how can we improve the reach of interventions? How can we reduce barriers to effective implementation of programs?).
Prosper Second Generation (P2G)
P2G is designed to evaluate intergenerational pathways of the PROSPER-delivered evidence-based programs during middle school for young adult outcomes, and impact on their children's development. The PROSPER trial originally included 10,845 youth in middle school, who were randomized at the community-level to receive evidence-based programming through PROSPER during 6th and 7th grade. These youth were followed through high school, and a randomly-selected subsample of nearly 2,000 were followed into the young adult years. Currently, these participants are in their mid-20's, and many are starting to have children. This study will provide a unique opportunity to examine key pathways through which evidence-based interventions alter the developmental trajectories of youth, and the wide-reaching public health implications of systematic, evidence-based programming delivered during early adolescence. Members of the POWER lab are working to better understand long-term developmental pathways, developmental change mechanisms of the PROSPER interventions, and the impact on parenting, parent well-being, and the childrearing environment they provide the next generation.
Examples of Daily Diary Studies from the FLOW Study
Fosco, G.M. & *LoBraico, E. (In Press). Elaborating on Premature Adolescent Autonomy: Linking Daily Family Processes to Developmental Risk. Development and Psychopathology
Fosco, G.M., *Mak H.W., *Ramos, A. *LoBraico, E.J., & Lippold, M.A. (2019). Exploring the Promise of Assessing Dynamic Characteristics of the Family for Predicting Adolescent Risk Outcomes. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 60, 848-856.
Fosco, G.M. & *Lydon-Staley, D.M. (2019). A Within-Family Examination of Interparental Conflict, Cognitive Appraisals, and Adolescent Mood and Well-Being. Child Development, 90, e421-e436.
Examples of Research on Evidence-Based Programs
*LoBraico, E.J., Fosco, G.M., Crowley, D.M., Feinberg, M.E., Spoth. R.L., & Redmond, C. (2019). Examining Intervention Component Dosage Effects on Substance Use Outcomes in the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth Ages 10-14. Prevention Science, 20, 852-862.
Fosco, G.M., Van Ryzin, M., Connell, A. M., & Stormshak, E. A. (2016). Preventing Adolescent Depression with the Family Check-Up: Examining Family Conflict as a Mechanism of Change. Journal of Family Psychology, 30, 82-92.
Fosco, G.M., Van Ryzin, M., Stormshak, E.A., & Dishion, T.J. (2014). Putting theory to the test: Examining Family Context, Caregiver Motivation, and Conflict in the Family Check-Up model. Development and Psychopathology, 26, 306-318.
Developmental Models of Adolescent Risk/Protective Processes
*Weymouth, B.B., Fosco, G.M., & Feinberg, M.E. (In Press). Nurturant-Involved Parenting and Adolescent Substance Misuse: Examining an Internalizing Pathway through Adolescent Social Anxiety Symptoms and Substance Refusal Efficacy. Development and Psychopathology.
Fosco, G.M., Van Ryzin, M., *Xia, M., & Feinberg, M.E. (2016). Trajectories of Adolescent Hostile-Aggressive Behavior and Family Climate: Longitudinal Implications for Young Adult Romantic Relationship Competence. Developmental Psychology, 52, 1139-1150.
Fosco, G. M., Stormshak, E. A., Dishion, T. J., & Winter, C. (2012). Family relationships and parental monitoring during middle school as predictors of early adolescent problem behavior. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 41, 202-213.
Examples of Papers Examining Interparental Conflict and Triangulation
Fosco, G.M. & Feinberg, M.E. (2018). Interparental Conflict and Long-Term Adolescent Substance Use Trajectories: Examining Threat Appraisals as a Mechanism of Risk. Journal of Family Psychology, 32, 175-185.
Fosco, G.M. & Bray, B. (2016). Profiles of Adolescents’ Triangulation and Appraisals of Interparental Conflict: Implications for Adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology, 30, 533-542.
Fosco, G.M. & Feinberg, M.E. (2015). Cascading effects of interparental conflict in adolescence: Linking threat appraisals, self-efficacy, and adjustment. Development and Psychopathology, 27, 239-252.
Fosco, G. M., DeBoard, R. L., & Grych, J. H. (2007). Making sense of family violence: Implications of children’s appraisals of interparental aggression for their short- and long-term functioning. The European Psychologist, 12, 6–16.