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Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Clinical Psychology (MSCP)

Committee Chair

Sydney Ey

Second Advisor

Jay C Thomas


The central goals of this cross-sectional study were to determine the relationships between spirituality, optimism, pessimism, responses to social stress (engagement versus disengagement coping), and psychological stress in adolescents (N=103). Furthermore, the researchers aimed to determine if higher levels of optimism and spirituality are moderators of responses to stress and psychological distress. While no moderating effects t were found, the present findings suggest that adolescents' optimism and pessimism are moderately correlated with coping style as well as overall distress. More specifically, l adolescents who are optimistic tend to participate in engagement coping and have lower overall levels of psychological distress, while adolescents who are pessimistic tend to utilize disengagement coping and have higher overall levels of psychological distress. Moreover, the correlations between pessimism and total distress was the strongest correlation found in this study, suggesting that the detrimental effects of pessimism are more powerful than the positive effects of optimism. Spirituality was found to have no significant correlations with adolescents' optimism/pessimism, engagement/disengagement coping, and psychological distress, which is incongruent to the adult literature. Implications of this research are discussed.