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Assessing differential effects: Applying regression mixture models to identify variations in the influence of family resources on academic achievement.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • M. Lee Van Horn
  • Thomas Jaki
  • Katherine Maysn
  • Sharon Landesman Ramey
  • Jessalyn A. Smith
  • Susan Antaramian
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Developmental Psychology
Number of pages16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Developmental scientists frequently seek to understand effects of environmental contexts on development. Traditional analytic strategies assume similar environmental effects for all children, sometimes exploring possible moderating influences or exceptions (e.g., outliers) as a secondary step. These strategies are poorly matched to ecological models of human development that posit complex individual by environment interactions. An alternative conceptual framework is proposed that tests the hypothesis that the environment has differential (nonuniform) effects on children. A demonstration of the utility of this framework is provided by examining the effects of family resources on children’s academic outcomes in a multisite study (N = 6,305). Three distinctive groups of children were identified, including 1 group particularly resilient to influence of low levels of family resources. Predictors of group differences including parenting and child demographics are tested, the replicability of the results are examined, and findings are contrasted with those obtained with traditional regression interaction effects. This approach is proposed as a partial solution to advance theories of the environment, social ecological systems research, and behavioral genetics to create well-tailored environments for children.