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15-09-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 1/2019

Teaching Behavior and Emerging Adults’ Depressive Symptoms: Effect of Perceived Observer-Model Similarity

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 1/2019
Patrick Pössel, Rosamond J. Smith
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10826-018-1250-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Depression rates increase from 2% during childhood, to 22–27% during adolescence, and 50% during college. Previous studies showed an association between teaching behavior and students’ depressive symptoms; however, no research has examined whether all schoolteachers are equally influential in this relation. Social cognitive theory states that an observer’s perceived similarity to a model increases the observer’s ability to learn from that model. Thus, we hypothesized that the association between teaching behavior and students’ depressive symptoms would be strongest with schoolteachers that students perceived as most similar to them. In a retrospective study, a sample of 330 college freshmen aged 18 to 20 (M = 18.31; 56.7% female; 76.7% identifying as White, 9.7% as Black, 4.5% Asian American, 4.5% Latino/a, 3.9% Biracial, and 0.6% not providing information regarding race) completed the Teaching Behavior Questionnaire (TBQ) for the schoolteacher from throughout their schooling whom they perceived to be either most similar or least similar to themselves, and the Center for Epidemiological Studies – Depression Scale (CES-D). As predicted, path analyses showed that instructional (p < 0.01), organizational (p < 0.01), and socio-emotional teaching behaviors (p < 0.05) of the most similar schoolteachers were significantly related to students’ depressive symptoms, while these teaching behaviors from least similar schoolteachers were not. Conversely, negative teaching behavior was associated with depressive symptoms independent of teachers’ perceived similarity (p < 0.05). Future longitudinal and experimental studies are needed to replicate our findings.

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