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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The COVID-19 pandemic has severely limited physical interaction (e.g., school closures, 6ft- distances, quarantine) and disrupted the daily lives of adolescents which likely heightened levels of perceived loneliness and internalizing symptomology. Due to the novelty of social distancing regulations caused by COVID-19, little is known about the role that loneliness plays in the association between stress from social distancing regulations and adherence to these regulations, and later difficulties with internalizing symptoms. The current study examined the impact of social distancing regulations on adolescents’ wellbeing through perceived loneliness by using data from a 5-week longitudinal survey-based study conducted on parents and adolescents (aged 14-17) amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, this thesis examined how social distancing adherence and stress influenced adolescents’ loneliness, ultimately impacting their subsequent internalizing symptoms (i.e., depression and anxiety). To determine if there was a stress-buffering effect of close relationships (i.e., emotional support and conflict), moderators of links between social distancing, perceived loneliness, and internalizing symptoms were examined. Findings provided evidence that loneliness plays a unique mediating link between social distancing and internalizing symptoms. Further, preliminary evidence of specific sources of resiliency and risk in adolescents’ close relationships during the pandemic were found. Overall, the present study highlights how social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted adolescents’ well-being during a developmental period considered a turning point for psychopathology.


First Advisor

Evelyn Mercado

Second Advisor

Holly Laws

Third Advisor

Maureen Perry-Jenkins