Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Douglas Barnett


The adolescent period of development is associated with increases in internalizing, externalizing, and other problem behaviors which are thought to be exacerbated by cumulative risk factors associated with environmental disadvantage. Previous research has demonstrated the associations between both secure attachment and psychosocial needs satisfaction with decreases in behavior problems; however, few studies have examined the relative effects of environmental stress exposure, attachment security and psychosocial needs satisfaction on adolescent behavioral problems. Therefore, this study recruited 106 environmentally at-risk, socioeconomically disadvantaged sample of urban adolescents and their caregivers from Detroit, MI in order to: (1) describe the levels of environmental disadvantage and stress exposure in this sample, (2) examine relations between stress exposure, secure base scriptedness, and psychosocial needs satisfaction, and adolescent behavior problems, and (3) explore the relative and unique contributions of stress, secure base scriptedness, and psychosocial needs satisfaction on behavior problems in this at-risk adolescent sample and how potential interactions among these variables contribute to resiliency in this at-risk population. The sample reported high levels of demographic risks, exposure to violence and other stressful events, and high levels of behavior problems. Analyses revealed that caregiver education less than high school and stressful events both contributed significant unique variance to the prediction of behavior problems. Although significantly negatively correlated with behavior problems, neither basic psychosocial needs satisfaction nor Secure Base Scriptedness contributed additional unique variance to the prediction of behavior problems once parent education and stress exposure were included in the equation. Secure base scriptedness nor basic needs satisfaction also did not interact with parent education or stress exposure to buffer the effects of the risk variables on behavior problems. Results suggest that the expected positive contribution of these protective factors were not enough to overcome the apparent contributions of stress exposure.