Methods. Data came from a sub-sample of parent-identified AA adolescents aged 9 – 10 in the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study who had complete data on all study variables (N = 471; 51.4% female) from 21 sites nationwide. The total correct score from the Emotional N-Back task was used to measure AER. Internalizing (α = .84; M = 4.21, SD = 4.86) and externalizing (α = .90; M = 3.12, SD = 4.66) behaviors were assessed with the Child Behavior Checklist. Cumulative risk exposure was created by dichotomizing 15 risk factors across the family, neighborhood, and community levels and summing these categorical indicators (M = 1.98, SD = 1.84). Multiple regression was the main modeling strategy performed using SPSS version 25. Covariates included gender, age, bi-/multiracial status, and ethnic group (East vs. South/Southeast Asian).
Results. The main effects model showed that higher levels of AER were significantly associated with lower levels of internalizing (b = -.06, p < .001) and externalizing (b = -.04, p = .012) behavior. Cumulative risk moderated the relationship for internalizing (b = -.41, p = .034), but not for externalizing behavior (b = -.32, p = .089). To probe the interaction term further, simple slopes were calculated – higher levels of AER were predictive of internalizing behavior in the high cumulative risk (1SD+) group (b = -1.18, p = .003), but were not in the low cumulative risk (1SD-) group (b = .32, p = .475).
Conclusions and Implications. The results suggest that lower levels of AER are associated with increased mental health symptomatology among Asian youth, particularly in environments characterized by elevated levels of risk and stressors. Our study findings provide individual- and ecological-level implications for developing social work policy and practice strategies that focus on promoting youth’s AER as well as reducing cumulative risk in order to support AA adolescent mental health.