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Gregory Fosco
Gregory M. Fosco
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
  • Human Development and Family Studies - HDFS
  • Graduate Program
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  • B.S., 1999, Psychology, University of California, Davis
  • M.S., 2006, Child Development, University of California, Davis
  • Ph.D., 2008, Clinical Psychology, Marquette University
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Currently Accepting Graduate Students
Professional Experience
  • 2013-Present: Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professor for the Study of Families
  • 2011-Present: Assistant Professor, 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
  • 2009-2010: Executive Committee Member, Center on Early Adolescence, ORI
  • 2008-2010: Postdoctoral Fellow, Child and Family Center, University of Oregon
Grants and Research Projects

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:

Current Projects

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?).

  • Fosco, G.M. & Bray, B. (In Press). Profiles of Adolescents’ Triangulation and Appraisals of Interparental Conflict: Implications for Adjustment. Journal of Family Psychology.

  • 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.

  • Howell, K. H., Coffee, J.K., Fosco, G.M., Kracke, K., Nelson, K., & Rothman, E., & Grych, J.H. (2016). Seven Reasons to Invest in Well-Being. Psychology of Violence, 6, 8-14.

  • Van Ryzin, M., Roseth, C., Fosco, G.M., Lee, Y-k., & Chen, I-C. (2016). A Component-Centered Meta-Analysis of Family-Based Prevention Programs for Adolescent Substance Use. Clinical Psychology Review, 45, 72-80.

  • 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. & Feinberg, M.E. (2015). Cascading effects of interparental conflict in adolescence: Linking threat appraisals, self-efficacy, and adjustment. Development and Psychopathology, 27, 239-252.

  • Van Ryzin, M., Kumpfer, K., Fosco, G.M., & Greenberg, M. (Eds.). (2015). Family-Based Prevention Programs for Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research, and Large-Scale Dissemination. New York: Psychology Press.

  • 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.

  • Fosco, G. M., Frank, J. L., Stormshak, E. A., & Dishion, T. J. (2013). Opening the “Black Box”: Explaining Family Check-Up Intervention Effects for Adolescent Effortful Control, Problem Behavior, and Substance Use. Journal of School Psychology, 51, 455-468.

  • Fosco, G. M., Caruthers, A. S., & Dishion, T. J. (2012). A six-year predictive text of adolescent family relationship quality and effortful control pathways to emerging adult social and emotional health. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 565-575. doi: 10.1037/a0028873

Additional Information

Two foci:
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, optimization of intervention effectiveness, translation of interventions to real-world settings.