Stress, relationships, distress, and well-being in high school seniors

Kostelecky, Kyle
Major Professor
Jacques D. L. Lempers
Committee Member
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Human Development and Family Studies

The purpose of this research project was to examine the impact of life events that are associated with major transitions that occur during late adolescence, specifically, for high school seniors. This was accomplished by investigating the role of family and nonfamily social support in the relationship between stressful life events and distress and well-being. The sources of support for the adolescents included their mother/step-mother, father/step-father, most important sibling, best male friend, best female friend, and most important adult at their school. Ensel and Lin's (1991) independent model, deterioration model, and counteractive model were examined. The examination of the three models was exploratory in nature in the sense that no predictions were made as to which of these models was most valid. Each model was tested with distress and well-being as outcomes and in a nested sequence. The results support the stress-deterring independence model and the stress-coping deterioration model (Ensel & Lin, 1991). The implications for understanding the relationships proposed in these two models enables adolescents, their families and friends, and others in their networks of relationships to utilize their resources of support to their greatest potential. This will allow for the strongest combating of stress and for significant deterring of distress. Although distress and well-being are similar constructs in nature, it is important to realize that if an older adolescent appears not to be depressed, lonely, delinquent, or abusing drugs and/or alcohol, he or she may still not be all that happy or satisfied with his or her life. These concepts need further examination to better differentiate and understand their individual components.