Methods: Participants were ages 12-14 (53% male) from a larger sexual risk prevention intervention study for 7th graders with mental health symptoms. The current study used control group data (n=198) from Baseline, 18-month, and 30-month follow-ups. Familial functioning and ESE were measured utilizing the Family Assessment Device (Epstein et al,1983) and the Emotional Self-Efficacy Scale (Muris, 2002). Future orientation was measured using two items: “what are the chances you will graduate high-school?” and “what are the chances you will live to be 35?” Responses were dichotomized (definitely will vs. all other responses).
Results: A series of logistic regressions were run with familial functioning and ESE predicting future orientation. Results revealed neither ESE nor familial functioning at baseline was predictive of future orientation 30 months later. However, ESE at the 18-month follow-up was a significant predictor of youth reporting at the 30-month follow-up that they “definitely will” live to be 35, B=0.396; p=.032, and a trend-level predictor for believing they “definitely will” graduate high school, B=0.363; p=.066. For every one point increase in ESE scores, adolescents were 1.49 and 1.44 times more likely to report that they would definitely live to be 35 and definitely graduate high school, respectively. Contrary to hypotheses, familial functioning did not significantly predict future orientation. No significant interactions between familial functioning and self-efficacy were found.
Conclusions: Although baseline and 18-month family functioning were not found predictive of 30-month future orientation, ESE at 18-months was found to be linked to future orientation at 30 months, when participants were in the 9th/10th grades. This suggests that a teen’s belief that they can manage their own feelings may be relevant, in the short-term, to expectations about their future. Findings may also reflect developmental shifts in the relative importance of emotional self-efficacy in future orientation. Discussion will address potential explanations of our findings, including the importance of fostering ESE and future directions.