Daily emotion dynamics provide valuable information about individuals’ emotion processes as they go about their lives. Emotion dynamics such as emotion levels (mean), emotion variability (degree of fluctuation), and emotion network density (strength of temporal connections among emotions) are associated with risks for various psychopathology in youth and adults. Prior work has shown that caregivers and friends play crucial socializing roles in adolescent emotional well-being, but less is known about their roles in daily emotion dynamics.
This study examined whether caregiver emotion coaching, caregiver-adolescent closeness, and friendship quality were associated with adolescents’ emotion levels, emotion variability, and emotion network density. Further, we examined whether caregiver-adolescent closeness moderated the associations between coaching and emotion dynamics. Participants were 150 adolescents (61% girls; Mage = 14.75) and one of their caregivers (95% female; Mage = 43.35) who completed a baseline survey and 21 daily surveys.
Results showed that caregiver emotion coaching interacted with caregiver-adolescent closeness in predicting emotion levels and variability. Specifically, when closeness was higher, emotion coaching was significantly associated with lower sadness and anger levels, higher happiness levels, and lower happiness variability. Caregiver emotion coaching, independent of closeness, was also associated with lower anxiety levels, lower sadness variability, and lower emotion network density. Friendship quality was significantly associated with lower levels of sadness, anxiety, and anger, higher levels of happiness, and lower variability in anxiety and anger.
These findings suggest that caregivers and friends are central to everyday emotion levels and variability and a more flexible emotion system in adolescents.