The Family Life Optimizing Well-Being (FLOW) Study
Duration: 2015 -
Funding: Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professorship for the Study of Families
Principal Investigator: Greg Fosco
“The Family Life Optimizing Well-Being (FLOW) study was designed to capture the day-to-day experiences of families with adolescents in their early high school years, and understand how these experiences shape their well-being and risk for mental health problems and/or substance use. Adolescence is a crucial developmental period where families undergo a lot of change, which we often think about in terms of months or years. This study considered day-to-day changes that parents and adolescents experience that serve as the foundation for their developmental changes.
Most developmental studies investigating adolescent well-being have focused on risk for mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or behavior problems. The FLOW study focused on balancing these problem outcomes with positive well-being, such as flourishing, life satisfaction, happiness, meaning, and purpose in life.
"We are challenging the notion that you can categorize a family and think of it as being only one way. We’re now zooming in on a methodology that would allow for tailored interventions specific to each family, taking into account each individual’s well-being and their family life.”Greg Fosco, FLOW Study Principal Investigator
The FLOW study is guided by family systems principles. In the PSU Family P.O.W.E.R. Lab, we consider how daily family experiences shape adolescent well-being, but also how parents benefit from positive relationships in the family.
To capture the families’ ebbs and flows in relationships, moods, and well-being, this study used a 21-day daily diary protocol where 150 adolescents and their caregivers completed the same survey every day, 21 days in a row. We measured one parent or caregiver and one adolescent in these families. Other aspects of the study focused on aspects family conflict, couple conflict between caregivers as well as family-level and parent adolescent conflict. We also did a follow-up survey one year later in order to understand the long-term implications of the day-to-day experiences in families with adolescents.
Our findings confirmed that families fluctuate a lot and in very meaningful ways. This has important implications for how we can better understand and help families. For example, an important finding from this study was that variability in the parent-adolescent relationship predicted how those adolescents were doing a year later. This work underscores the importance of not only having positive interactions with your child, but also to do so consistently from day to day. Effectively, we find that daily experiences accumulate to serve as building blocks for successful development.
We are challenging the notion that you can categorize a family and think of it as being only one way. We’re now zooming in on a methodology that would allow for tailored interventions specific to each family, taking into account each individual’s well-being and their family life.”
-- Greg Fosco, FLOW Study Principal Investigator
The FLOW study has formed the basis of successful projects by several early career researchers with findings published in peer-reviewed journals.
Greg Fosco (PI)
PRC Associate Director; Professor, Human Development and Family Studies
Hio Wa (Grace) Mak
Brinberg, M., Fosco, G.M., & Ram, N. (2017). Examining inter-family differences in intra-family (parent-adolescent) dynamics using grid-sequence analysis. Journal of Family Psychology, 31, 994-1004. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000371
Lydon-Staley, D.M., Xia, M., Mak, H.W., & Fosco, G.M. (2019). Adolescent emotion network dynamics in daily life and implications for depression. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 47, 717-729. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-018-0474-y
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. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12997
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. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13052
Fosco, G.M. & LoBraico, E. (2019). Elaborating on premature adolescent autonomy: Linking daily family processes to developmental risk. Development and Psychopathology, 31, 1741-1755. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0954579419001032
Fosco, G.M, McCauley, D.M., Sloan, C.J. (2021). Distal and proximal family contextual effects on adolescents’ interparental conflict appraisals: A daily diary study. Journal of Family Psychology, 35, 927-938. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000703
Xia, M., Bray, B.C., & Fosco, G.M. (In Press). Capturing triadic family structures and their day-to-day dynamics: A multilevel latent profile analysis. Family Process. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/famp.12722
McCauley, D.M. & Fosco, G. M. (2021). Family and individual risk factors for triangulation: Evaluating evidence for emotion coaching buffering effects. Family Process. Advance online publication: https://doi.org/10.1111/famp.12703
MacNeill, L.A. & Fosco, G.M. (2021). Intraindividual differences in adolescent threat appraisals and anxiety associated with interparental conflict. Journal of Marriage and Family, 84, 583-601. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12795
Xia, M., Weymouth, B., Bray, B.C., Lippold, M. A., Feinberg, M.E., & Fosco, G.M. (2020). Exploring Influence of Triadic Family Relationship Profiles on Adolescents’ Early Substance Initiation. Prevention Science, 21, 519-529.
LoBraico, E. J., Brinberg, M., Ram, N., & Fosco, G.M. (2020). Exploring Processes in Day-to-Day Parent-Adolescent Conflict and Angry Mood: Evidence for Circular Causality. Family Process, 59, 1706-1721.
Fosco, G.M. & Lydon-Staley, D.M. (2020). Implications of Family Cohesion and Conflict for Adolescent Mood and Well-Being: Examining Within- and Between-Family Processes on a Daily Timescale. Family Process, 59, 1672-1689.
Mayfield, K. & Fosco, G.M. (2021). Links between School and Home: Associations between Adolescent School Day Experiences and Maternal Perceptions of Family Relations. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 30, 121-133.
Fosco, G.M., Brinberg, M. & Ram, N. (2021). Day-to-day changes in parent-adolescent connectedness: Relations with daily subjective well-being and eudaimonia differ for parents and adolescents. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 5, 640-650. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439760.2020.1791945
Coffey, J., Xia, M. & Fosco, G.M. (In Press). When do Adolescents Feel Loved? A Daily Within-Person Study of Parent-Adolescent Relations. Emotion. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32658506/
McCauley, D. M., Sloan, C. J., Xia, M., & Fosco, G. M. (2021). Same family, divergent realities: How triangulation preserves parents’ illusory harmony while adolescents navigate interparental conflicts. Journal of Family Psychology, 35(2), 128–137. https://doi.org/10.1037/fam0000785