Date of Award

Fall 2017

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Karen T Van Gundy

Second Advisor

Heather Turner

Third Advisor

Cesar Rebellon


To what extent does age—that is, late adolescence and young adulthood—influence depressed mood or anxiety? To what extent are age differences between late adolescents and emerging adults explained by differences in coping style? To what extent does coping style moderate the effects of age on depressed mood and anxiety while controlling for chronic stress? I examine data from the Coös Youth Study, a longitudinal research project examining the life-course trajectories of two youth cohorts living in rural New England. Significant differences exist between late adolescents and emerging adults in coping style, stress exposure, and mental health. Relative to late adolescents, young adults show higher levels of problem- and emotion-focused coping, and lower levels of avoidant coping, chronic strain, depression, and anxiety. Age differences in depression and anxiety are not explained by coping style type. However, the data indicate that coping styles interact with age, influencing levels of both depressed mood and anxiety. More specifically, problem-focused coping has a stronger negative effect on depressed mood and anxiety levels during emerging adulthood than in adolescence. Results also indicate that emotion-focused coping is not universally adaptive or maladaptive—findings suggest that emotion-focused coping is associated with higher levels of depressed mood and anxiety in adolescence, but during emerging adulthood, it exerts a buffering influence on these outcomes. I discuss the significance of these findings for the stress process and coping literature.