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Predictors of Adolescent Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Cognitive Reappraisal and Humor



The COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to slow the spread of disease have particularly affected the lives of adolescents. Many studies have recently identified the risks to adolescent mental health posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, yet few have identified the markers of resilience to the events and concerns associated with the pandemic's lived experience. This study examined the moderating role of psychosocial resources in the association between the tangible and emotional experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic and symptoms of common psychiatric problems during adolescence (depression, anxiety, proactive and reactive aggression, and sleep problems).


Participants were adolescents in the United States who were oversampled for early life adversity before the COVID-19 pandemic. The psychosocial resources assessed were humor styles, emotion regulation, social support, optimism, and purpose in life, which have previously been identified as protective in the acute aftermath of stressful events.


Greater COVID-19 impact was associated with more anxiety, depressive symptoms, sleep disturbance, and proactive aggression. COVID-19 impact and psychiatric symptoms were unrelated among youth reporting high self-enhancing humor and cognitive reappraisal.


Adolescents high in humor and cognitive reappraisal may be protected against the mental health correlates of the COVID-19 pandemic and other prolonged stressors. Importantly, these factors are known to be modifiable through behavioral interventions. Attention to their effectiveness in prevention and intervention studies is needed as the pandemic continues to exert its impact on individuals and society.

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