Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Kathryn Grant, PhD
Jocelyn Smith Carter, PhD
Julie Brosnan, PhD
Stress theory posits that exposure to stress predicts negative outcomes (Grant et al., 2003). Children residing in urban poverty are often exposed to multiple stressors which deleteriously impacts social, emotional, and academic well-being. The current study, which is derived from the Cities Mentor Project intervention, is a randomized control trial (RCT) designed to assess the impact of a coping curriculum (along with mentor support) on how adolescents cope with stressors. Participants were 54 6th grade students (31 intervention, 23 control), who ranged in age from 11-13 years old (M= 11.35, SD= 0.52), and 59.3% of participants were female. All participants identified as African-American. This study explores the coping strategies used by the groups receiving the coping and mentor intervention versus a demographically similar control group. Results suggest that children were able to learn and increase usage of more optimal coping strategies for dealing with academic stress (i.e., engagement coping) and violence stress (i.e., disengagement coping). However, results also suggest that children may have learned to overgeneralize coping strategies as they also showed a pattern of increased usage of sub-optimal coping strategies for dealing with academic stress (i.e., disengagement coping) and violence stress (i.e., engagement coping). Future research should be conducted to better understand how different mechanisms of the intervention influence how children use coping strategies.
The ability to adapt to stress and adversity often dictates how an individual’s developmental trajectory unfolds. Successful adaptation to stressors includes multiple processes, such as cognitive, emotional, and behavioral regulation. Through these processes, an individual develops coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with stress, which can lead to well-adjusted or maladjusted outcomes (Grant et al., 2003).
Horwath, Jordan, "Stress and Coping in an Inner-City Environment: The Cities Mentor Project Coping Intervention with Youth Living in Urban Poverty" (2021). College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations. 368.