The Role of Puberty in the Development of Coping

Restricted (Penn State Only)
Joos, Celina Maria
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 14, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Martha Wadsworth, Thesis Advisor
  • Kristin Buss, Committee Member
  • Lorah Dorn, Committee Member
  • puberty
  • adolescence
  • stress
  • development of coping
As children transition into adolescence, they demonstrate more sophisticated coping strategies that allow them to more effectively respond to daily and life stressors. These improvements are considered to be aspects of the normative, age-graded development of coping, though there has been little scientific exploration of underlying biological developments that may drive these alterations in coping. This study aimed to (a) create a theoretically-grounded model of coping sophistication; (b) test which developmental factors may predict sophistication of coping using structural equation modeling (SEM); and (c) explore gender differences in the ways in which children cope with stress. Students in 4th and 5th grade (N=152) and their parent completed measures of coping practices, psychopathology, stress exposure, and pubertal development. A model of coping sophistication was found to be partially invariant across genders and predictive of psychological wellbeing among boys. Neither age nor pubertal development was predictive of coping sophistication, yet for boys greater stress exposure was associated with poorer coping sophistication. Possible implications of gender differences in coping sophistication are discussed. These findings are important for theoretical models of the development of coping and underscore the need for additional, longitudinal research.