Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The current study utilized a specificity framework in the examination of interactions among coping strategies, stressor domains, and participant gender in the prediction of depressive and anxiety symptoms. Participants were 273 African American adolescents (6th - 8th; mean age = 12.9; 58% female). Participants completed measures of universal and culturally-relevant coping strategies in response to a stressor. Stressors were coded by raters across dichotomous domains: interpersonality (interpersonal vs. non-interpersonal), duration (acute vs. chronic), controllability (controllable vs. non-controllable), and sexuality (sexual vs. non-sexual). T-tests were conducted to examine differences in reported coping across stress domains. Inconsistent with predictions, mean differences of reported coping strategies did not differ across stressor type. Chi-square analyses were conducted to determine gender differences in reported stressor type.

Consistent with hypotheses, males and females did not differ in their reported experiences with various stressors. However, females tended to utilize a wider variety of coping strategies than males. Regression analyses were conducted to examine the interactive effects of stressor type, coping, and gender in the prediction of reported internalizing symptoms. Consistent with hypotheses, under controllable stress, social support predicted fewer depressive symptoms, but under uncontrollable stress, social support aggravated depressive symptoms. Inconsistent with predictions, interactions between stressor duration and avoidant and support-seeking coping predicting outcomes were non-significant. Further, no interactions were significant in predicting anxiety symptoms. Results are discussed in the context of the specificity framework's ability to better understand the stress-psychopathology relationship.

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