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05-10-2019 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 11/2019

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 11/2019

Is Life Satisfaction an Antecedent to Coping Behaviors for Adolescents?

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 11/2019
Xu Jiang, Lue Fang, Michael D. Lyons
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Adolescence is a critical developmental stage to develop coping behaviors. However, little is known about the longitudinal relations between coping behaviors and subjective well-being factors in adolescents. Situated within a positive psychology framework and supported by well-being theories, this study aims to investigate if life satisfaction is an antecedent to predict four specific types of coping behaviors (two approach coping: social support seeking and problem solving; and two avoidant coping: internalizing and externalizing coping behaviors) in early adolescents? A cross-lagged panel design was applied with three-wave data with six months apart between each wave. At the baseline, a total of 897 adolescents participated (52.1% female) in the study with 451 students in the 7th grade and 446 students in the 8th grade. The majority of the student body were European American (58.5%), followed by African American (29.4%) and a small percentage of other minority groups (2.9% Asian or Pacific Islander, 1.4% Hispanic, 1.1% Native American, and 6.3% other racial groups). Results showed that life satisfaction predicted all coping behaviors in the expected directions across at least one 6-month period between three waves. Reciprocal relations were found between life satisfaction and social support seeking and also between life satisfaction and internalizing coping behaviors from Time 1 to Time 2. Overall the results support that life satisfaction can be an antecedent to coping behaviors. Gender differences were further tested through multi-group comparison and the major findings include: (1) life satisfaction predicted all coping behaviors for females but only two approach coping behaviors for males from Time 1 to Time 2; (2) life satisfaction predicted two coping behaviors (social support seeking, externalizing coping behaviors) across Time 2 and Time 3 for females only. Taken together, life satisfaction appeared to be a more robust predictor of coping behaviors in female adolescents. Research implications are discussed.

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