Adolescence is an important transitional time with biological and social changes. During adolescence there is a heightened risk of internalized and externalized problems such as, anxiety, depression, suicide, substance misuse, and conduct disorders. Some will navigate this challenging time with great mastery, while others may experience confusion, self-doubt, and distress. Protective factors or personal resources such as, parent and peer support, social and academic competence, and self-esteem can help navigate the transition with success.
The survey data was gathered from 246 adolescent girls between the ages 14 to16 years old. The purpose of this study is to increase understanding of how trait- anxious adolescent girls cope with their problems, and how protective factors mediate the relationship between anxiety and coping. The protective factors in this study that are considered to foster healthy social and emotional outcomes for adolescents are secure parent and peer-attachment, social and academic competence, and extracurricular activities.
Findings from this study demonstrate the complexity of relationships among attachment, coping, and personal resources for trait-anxious girls during adolescence. For instance, trait-anxious girls were significantly more likely to utilize emotion-focused coping strategies: more specifically, they used self-controlling (regulation of feeling and actions) coping, accepting responsibility coping (trying to make things right), and escape-avoidance coping (wishful thinking significantly more than their non-trait-anxious counterparts. They were also more likely to use one of the problem-focused strategies specifically, confrontive coping (aggressive efforts to alter the situation). Furthermore, trait-anxious girls also had significantly less perceived mother and peer-attachment, and lower academic competence, relative to non-trait-anxious girls.
This study tested three hypotheses using a mediation model to indicate that, hypothesis 1 was not supported because trait-anxiety was negatively associated with seeking-support coping. However, as predicted, hypothesis 2 revealed full mediation of perceived insecure mother-attachment on the relationship between trait-anxiety and self controlling coping, one of the emotion-focused coping strategies. Consistent with that hypothesis, perceived insecure mother-attachment also partially mediated the relationship between trait-anxiety and another emotion-focused strategy, escape- avoidance coping. Further, a component of hypothesis 3 was also established where, academic competence partially mediated the relationship between trait-anxiety and accepting responsibility coping which is an emotion-focused strategy. Notably, there was no mediating role of social competence or peer-attachment on the relationship between trait-anxiety and accepting responsibility coping. The electronic version of this dissertation is at OhioLink ETD Centre, www.ohiolink.edu/etd.