Research Articles

High levels of anxiety and psychological well-being in college students: A dual factor model of mental health approach

Katherine Carver, Hajar Ismail, Christopher Reed, Justin Hayes, Haifa Alsaif, Marisa Villanueva, Sarah Sass

Journal of Positive School Psychology , , ,

Anxiety disorders are prevalent among college students and contribute to problems in social and academic functioning. The primary focus in the anxiety literature has been on symptoms and deficits in functioning rather than psychological well-being. The present study investigated the extent to which high levels of anxiety co-occurred with self-reported psychological well-being using a dual-factor model of mental health approach. Participants (n = 100) were categorized into two groups (high anxiety crossed with low and high life satisfaction), and groups were compared on several psychological well-being indicators. Supporting a dual-factor approach, students reporting high levels of anxiety and life satisfaction reported higher levels of hope, grit, gratitude, self-focused positive rumination, and savoring of positive emotions than students reporting high levels of anxiety and low levels of life satisfaction. Groups did not differ in emotion-focused positive rumination or in dampening of positive emotion. These results highlight well-being heterogeneity within individuals reporting high levels of anxiety, with implications for treatment and prevention efforts.

Social Support, Resilience and Subjective Well-being in College Students

Murat Yıldırım, Fatma Çelik Tanrıverdi

Journal of Positive School Psychology , , ,

Social support has been linked to numerous adaptive psychosocial health outcomes. The Brief Perceived Social Support Questionnaire (BPSSQ) is a newly developed measure of general social support. This study aimed to test the psychometric properties and dimensionality of the BPSSQ in Turkish language and tested the mediating effect of resilience in the relationship between social support and satisfaction with life. Participants included 202 college students (69.3% females), with a mean age of 22.58 years (SD=1.26) who completed online measures of social support, resilience, and satisfaction with life. As expected, the BPSSQ provided a one-factor structure with a satisfactory internal consistency. Social support significantly predicted resilience and satisfaction with life. Resilience also predicted satisfaction with life. Furthermore, the results supported the hypothesis of mediating role of resilience in the relationship between social support and satisfaction with life. These results are important in terms of providing evidence of the underlying mechanism between social support and satisfaction with life. Future intervention efforts aimed at increasing social support and satisfaction with life may benefit from resilience.

Benefit finding in the COVID-19 pandemic: College students’ positive coping strategies

Rachel August, Adam Dapkewicz

Journal of Positive School Psychology , , , Page 1-14

The ability of college students to cope effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing concern which could have implications for a generation of students’ health and well-being. Although adaptive coping styles have been explored with reference to other large-scale crises, little is known from an empirical standpoint about whether college students are engaging in such coping strategies during the pandemic. The current study focuses on meaning-focused coping, a coping style often seen in response to significant trauma or adversity, and in particular the process of benefit finding. Qualitative data were collected from a sample of 63 college students who were living under county-issued shelter-in-place orders for seven weeks during the pandemic in an academic semester. Benefit finding was a common strategy expressed by students during that time. They identified several self-related benefits including learning to be grateful, unexpected personal growth, and new clarity about the future. They also described various societal-related benefits of the pandemic, including people acting selflessly, focusing on what matters, developing creative solutions and teamwork, and also noted improvements in the natural environment. The self-related benefits had a particularly potent impact, as those who reported them were also less likely to express fear, anxiety, or stress. The results suggest that benefit finding is an important coping strategy during the pandemic; moreover, it seems helpful to continue exploring such positive models of adaptation as students navigate the pandemic over time.

Loneliness is a serious risk factor for healthy development and flourishing. Although loneliness has been revealed to play an important role in psychological health and well-being, little is known about moderating and mitigating mechanisms underlying this association, especially during adverse experiences (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic). The current study purposed to explore whether subjective vitality mediated the association of loneliness with psychological adjustment and whether college belongingness moderated the mediating effect of subjective vitality on students’ adjustment in the context of loneliness. The study sample comprised 333 undergraduate students (69% female) from a public university in Turkey. They ranged in age between 19 and 41 years (M= 21.94, SD= 4.15). Findings from mediation analysis revealed that loneliness had a significant predictive effect on subjective vitality and psychological adjustment challenges. Subjective vitality also mediated the effect of loneliness on the psychological adjustment of college students. Further, college belongingness moderated the mediating effect of subjective vitality on adjustment and had a protective effect on the association between loneliness and subjective vitality in college students. These results indicate that subjective vitality and college belongingness are important mechanisms that may help develop prevention and intervention strategies to foster students’ psychological health and well-being in university settings.

Review Articles

Self Determination Theory proposes that psychological needs satisfaction is associated with high positive affect and low negative affect. The present study consolidated effect sizes from previous research on the relationship of satisfaction of autonomy, competence and relatedness needs with positive affect and negative affect, and identified moderators of the relationships. The basic need satisfaction and positive affect meta-analyses included 16 samples for autonomy, 16 for competence, and 16 for relatedness, with 7335, 6832, and 6710 participants, respectively. Across studies, higher positive affect was significantly associated with greater autonomy satisfaction (r=.39), competence satisfaction (r=.45), and relatedness satisfaction (r=.39). The basic need satisfaction and negative affect meta-analyses included 11 samples for autonomy, 13 for competence, and 11 for relatedness, with 5114 participants, 5481 participants, and 5114 participants, respectively. Across studies, lower negative affect was significantly associated with greater autonomy satisfaction (r=-.30), competence satisfaction (r=-.33), and relatedness satisfaction (r=-.30). Moderator analyses found that gender composition, sample type, and basic need satisfaction measure were related to the strength of associations.