Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Individual and Stressor-related Predictors of Coping Response among Vietnamese American and European American Adolescents

  • Author(s): Chan, Melissa
  • Advisor(s): Fuligni, Andrew J
  • Lau, Anna S
  • et al.
Abstract

This study investigated whether cultural factors and aspects of a stressor determined Vietnamese American and European American adolescents’ coping responses. Between- and within-person differences in the link between coping tendencies and patterns and psychological adjustment were also examined. It was hypothesized that individual and stressor-related factors would differentially determine adolescents’ coping responses. Moreover, it was predicted that support seeking would be more adaptive for females than males and that avoidant coping would be less detrimental for Vietnamese American adolescents than for European American adolescents as these coping strategies are more aligned with the ways in which they have been socialized. It was also expected that adolescents with more variability in their patterns of coping and more overall deployment of coping strategies would be better adjusted than those with less coping variability and lower coping average levels, respectively.

Findings showed that females and Vietnamese Americans used more avoidant coping than males and European Americans, respectively, whereas there were no group differences in support seeking. Adolescents who strongly endorsed emotional restraint reported higher levels of avoidant coping and less support seeking. Also, adolescents who strongly valued family obligation tended to use more support-seeking strategies. In terms of aspects of the stressor, adolescents used more avoidant coping for stressors that they perceived as highly stressful. This association was moderated by gender such that females engaged in high levels of support seeking regardless of how stressful they perceived an event. Adolescents also tended to use more avoidant coping for conflict-related stressors. This association was moderated by ethnicity such that Vietnamese American adolescents reported using more avoidance for interpersonal conflicts compared to European American adolescents. For family-related stressors, adolescents engaged in less support seeking.

Between- and within-person differences in the link between coping response and internalizing symptoms showed that more avoidance coping was associated with more distress at both the individual and occasion levels. In contrast, support seeking was associated with less distress at the individual level but not at the occasion level. Despite individual and gender differences in the average use of coping strategies, gender and ethnicity did not moderate the associations between coping strategies and adjustment. Lastly, coping variability did not predict psychological adjustment, but mean levels of coping were related to internalizing symptoms depending upon whether examined at the individual or occasion level.

The strengths of the current study include the simultaneous examination of between- and within-person differences in the link between coping responses and internalizing symptoms. Additionally, this study was the first to exam adolescents’ dispersion of coping strategies employed in conjunction with overall amounts of coping at both the individual and occasion level. Implications for interventions relating to coping skills training were discussed.

Main Content
Current View