Session: The Theoretical Contributions of Thomas J. Dishion: Reflections and Future Directions (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

3-033 The Theoretical Contributions of Thomas J. Dishion: Reflections and Future Directions

Thursday, May 30, 2019: 1:15 PM-2:45 PM
Grand Ballroom A (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
Theme: Epidemiology and Etiology
Symposium Organizer:
Gregory M. Fosco
Frances Gardner
The recent loss of Tom Dishion has left many in our field mourning. Tom made many contributions to prevention science, ranging from theories of risk and protective processes in child and adolescent development to innovative family-centered interventions. Tom recognized the central role of theory in his framework for model building, such that it should underlie the logic models guiding interventions, and that theories required on-going refinements and revision (Dishion & Patterson, 1999). We seek to remember the important contributions Tom has made to our field, while carrying forward his work as he would do himself: by questioning assumptions, considering alternatives, and expanding or revising theories.

This symposium will focus on coercion theory, premature adolescent autonomy, and deviant peer process. The first presentation will review Tom’s contributions to coercion theory and extensions into dynamic systems approaches to characterizing the moment-to-moment interchanges between parent and child that describe coercive process. Then, recent models of self- and co-regulation, expanding the behavioral process described in coercion theory to incorporate additional parameters of these pathogenic interactions.

The second presentation addresses premature adolescent autonomy, which focuses on declines in parenting quality and parent-child relationships during the early- to middle-adolescent years. In families with rapid declines during this period, youth are at risk for engaging in a deviant peer context; the combination of these two processes reflects a key risk factor for antisocial behavior and substance use outcomes. Daily diary data will be presented that explores a within-family disengagement process that may help explain Tom’s documented developmental degradation in parenting practices and involvement in youths’ lives.

No discussion of Tom’s theories would be complete without a review of his peer theories. The third talk will focus on reviewing deviancy training and contagion processes in peer groups, and expand these models to consider small-group influences on adolescent development. This will include work from two different research teams that carry Tom’s work forward exploring dyadic, clique, and larger peer network dynamics that not only explain deviancy, but also friendships and academic outcomes.

This symposium has been structured to address three key theories, each presented by a former postdoctoral mentee. A discussion will be provided by a long-time friend and colleague who can share insights into the development of his theories, impact on the field, and future directions. It is our hope that this symposium, by remembering his contributions and discussing future directions for this work, will honor Tom’s legacy in our field.

* noted as presenting author
Premature Adolescent Autonomy: Exploring Timescale to Guide Future Directions
Gregory M. Fosco, PhD, The Pennsylvania State University
Tom Dishion’s Peer Theories: An Inspiration for Current and Future Prevention Research
Marie-Hélène Véronneau, PhD, Université du Québec à Montréal; Francois Poulin, PhD, UQAM