Wellbeing and functioning in emerging adulthood: A longitudinal study of determinants and mechanisms
AffiliationMelbourne School of Psychological Sciences
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-06-22.
© 2018 Jessica Armitage
During the key periods of adolescence and emerging adulthood, individuals can be particularly vulnerable to experiencing suboptimal wellbeing and functioning. With potential long-term impacts on adult trajectories, early wellbeing promotion is critical. This study aimed to further understand wellbeing development across adolescence and into emerging adulthood, by examining the role of a range of individual and environmental characteristics. The individual characteristics examined included temperament, anxiety symptoms, and depression symptoms. Environmental characteristics included parental responses to emotion expression, parental mental health, stressful life events, and maltreatment. The role of emotion regulation strategies were also explored in relation to the characteristics and wellbeing. The study utilised a longitudinal community cohort from the Adolescent Development Study, recruited from schools across Melbourne, Australia. The sample included 245 families who completed questionnaires across three time points. At time 1 (mean age = 12.45), measures of temperament, depression symptoms, anxiety symptoms, parental depression symptoms, parental anxiety symptoms, and parental responses to offspring emotion expression were completed. At time 2 (mean age = 15.01), adolescents completed measures of stressful life events and maltreatment. They completed emotion regulation and wellbeing measures at the final time point (mean age = 18.83). Predictor variables were factor analysed within each domain in order to provide sufficient representation of the structure of the data. A series of path analyses, controlling for gender and SES revealed that temperament traits, neglect, and abuse predicted wellbeing and functioning outcomes. Bootstrap path analyses (using 95% confidence intervals for the indirect effect) revealed significant associations between the emotion regulation strategies of rumination, distraction, mindfulness, cognitive reappraisal, and expressive suppression with the individual and environmental characteristics, and wellbeing and functioning outcomes. Findings suggest that wellbeing development across adolescence and emerging adulthood is associated with individual characteristics (e.g., temperament), as well as environmental experiences that deviate from adaptive ranges (e.g., neglect). The various patterns found in the study reinforce the salience of examining wellbeing as a multifaceted construct, with aspects of wellbeing potentially having different developmental pathways. Furthermore, emotion regulation strategies may be important for wellbeing pathways, with maladaptive strategies (e.g., rumination) being associated with lower wellbeing and adaptive strategies (e.g. mindfulness) associated with higher wellbeing. Therefore, emotion regulation may be a suitable target for optimising youth wellbeing.
Keywordsemerging adulthood; adolescence; wellbeing; emotion regulation; mindfulness; rumination; well-being; maltreatment
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