Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The purpose of this study is to examine the relations between stressor appraisals, active coping, executive functions, and internalizing symptoms in a community sample of low-income African-American youth. There is a dearth of studies assessing how executive functions influence the connection between coping and internalizing symptoms, notably in community and minority populations. When faced with distressing, uncontrollable settings straining the capacity to self-regulate, youth with executive functioning deficits may encounter greater challenges in coping with stressors. Yet, since typically adaptive active coping strategies do not benefit some youth and can result in negative outcomes, it is important to identify what possible factors might be associated with this difference. Participants were 146 African American youth in the 6th-8th grades from two public schools in urban areas, ranging in age from 11-15 years (M=12.59). Results showed that the interaction of direct problem solving (DPS) coping and executive functions was significant as well as the interaction of seeking understanding (SU) and executive functions. In both cases, simple slopes analyses revealed that nonclinical youth reported lower depression scores. These analyses suggest that youth without clinically significant deficits in executive functions can use cognitive skills to think of ways to improve the problem (DPS) and to find meaning in a problem (SU). Thus, it is important to conduct research to identify what types of active coping strategies relate to improved mental health outcomes for youth with and without deficits in executive functions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.