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Coping in adolescent-mother conflictual interactions as a predictor of adolescent depression

Cheryl A Bonica, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This longitudinal study investigated the association between adolescent depressive symptoms and adolescents' behavioral coping during a conflictual family interaction task. The primary hypothesis was that adolescents' use of behavioral-avoidance coping predicts concurrent and future adolescent depressive symptoms. Four secondary hypotheses were: (a) adolescents' use of behavioral-approach coping is negatively related to depressive symptoms, (b) adolescents' use of behavioral-avoidance coping uniquely predicts depressive symptoms, and thus, does not predict externalizing symptomatology, (c) adolescent boys use behavioral-approach coping to a greater extent than adolescent girls, and (d) adolescents model their mothers' coping strategies. Seventy adolescents engaged in videotaped conflict interactions with their mothers and filled out questionnaires. Trained coders watched thirty-four fifteen-second segments of these interactions and rated adolescents and mothers on behavioral indicators of avoidance and approach coping during each segment. The hypotheses that adolescents' use of behavioral-avoidance and behavioral-approach coping predicts adolescent depressive symptoms were not confirmed. Gender differences in behavioral coping strategies were not supported. As predicted, adolescents modeled their mothers' behavioral coping. The influence of contextual characteristics of interpersonal stress on adolescent behavioral coping strategies is highlighted and clinical implications are discussed.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Bonica, Cheryl A, "Coping in adolescent-mother conflictual interactions as a predictor of adolescent depression" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056200.