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Aims: Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by many physical, psychological and social transformations, eliciting experiences of emotional arousal that might increase psychopathology risk (e.g. affective and behavioral disorders). The study tested adolescents' use of coping strategies and their psychosocial well-being.
Methods: Participants (N 1060) were Italian students, 14 to 21 years old, attending senior high school or first years of university, who completed a survey. Psychosocial well-being, and its relation to coping strategy use, was assessed by measuring subjective health perception, life satisfaction, positive and negative felt affect, emotional and social loneliness.
Results: Adolescents were found to use the healthier strategies of Seeking social support, Problem Orientation, and Positive attitude more than the less functional strategy of Avoidance; a Transcending Orientation was also not much reported. Preferences for strategy type formed a coherent pattern - e.g., Problem Orientation was positively associated with Positive attitude. Preferences for strategy type were significantly associated to well-being levels in the expected direction. Avoidance was found to be the most important coping strategy, negatively associated with most well-being indicators, e.g. predicting greater Emotional loneliness, and lower perceived Health; vice versa, Seeking social support and Problem solving were associated with lesser Social loneliness and higher levels of Positive affect and Life satisfaction. Although result patterns were quite similar across age groups and sex, some differences were observed.
Conclusion: Preferences for more or less functional coping strategies impact on well-being, suggesting that a better understanding of these processes in adolescence and early adulthood may help us understand individual differences in mental health and adjustment.
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