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Benefits of high intelligence: Potential moderating effects of emotion regulation and friendship quality

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Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or actions are on the rise in adolescents (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015; Bridge, Asti, & Horowitz, 2015). Parents, school administrators, and therapists are

Depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or actions are on the rise in adolescents (National Institute of Mental Health, 2015; Bridge, Asti, & Horowitz, 2015). Parents, school administrators, and therapists are searching for resiliency factors with in at-risk groups to aid students in need. In previous work, Luthar and Zigler (1992) reported that intelligent youth are more resilient than less intelligent youth under low stress conditions but they lose their advantage under high stress conditions. This study examined whether intelligence (reflected in grade point average; GPA) and maladaptive (internalizing and externalizing symptoms) behaviors are negatively related in adolescents, and tested whether level of stress, reflected in emotion regulation and friendship quality, moderated that association. It also probed whether the relationships differ by gender. Sixth-graders (N=506) were recruited with active parental consent from three middle schools. Adolescents completed self-report questionnaires Regarding demo graphics, maladaptive behaviors, emotion regulation, and friendship quality, and GPA data were collected from the school. Regression analyses found that GPA was negatively related to externalizing symptoms. Girls with poor friendship communication report significantly higher maladaptive behaviors. This relation was more pronounced for girls with high GPAs, as predicted. Results support the theory that intelligent female adolescents are more reactive under adverse circumstances. Future efforts should follow students through middle school into high school to evaluate whether friendships remain important to adjustment, hold for boys as well as girls, and have implications for relationship interventions.

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  • 2017-12

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The Multidimensional Nature of Social Support in Contributing to Adjustment Following Spousal Loss

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Spousal loss is a common, significant life event that can negatively affect multiple facets of individual health and psychological adjustment. Social support is one factor that is shown to improve

Spousal loss is a common, significant life event that can negatively affect multiple facets of individual health and psychological adjustment. Social support is one factor that is shown to improve adjustment following spousal loss, but much less is known regarding which facet of social support is most predictive of positive adjustment outcomes following spousal loss. This study examined the course of changes in mental health and well-being following spousal loss and which facets of social support are associated with better outcomes following spousal loss. Latent growth curve modeling was applied to data from 265 widowed individuals, ages 65 and older, across four assessments (baseline, and 6-, 18-, and 48- months following spousal loss). I examined the following research questions: (1) adjustment following spousal loss will follow a trajectory of an increase in depressive symptoms and anxiety and decrease in well-being with a leveling-off over time, with between-person differences, and (2) emotional support and instrumental support given will lead to more positive adjustment outcomes over time. Depressive symptoms followed the hypothesized trajectory but anxiety and well-being showed relative stability before and after spousal loss. Instrumental support was the most beneficial facet of social support, such that receiving more instrumental support was associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms and anxiety 6-months following spousal loss. Giving more instrumental support led to an increase in well-being following spousal loss. Instrumental support given and received led to increases in well-being as a function of spousal loss. The discussion focuses on whether and how these findings can help to identify ways through which support and help can be given to individuals to improve adjustment to spousal loss and fully recover.

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  • 2017-12