Approach and avoidant coping: Implications for adolescent mental health

Mindy A. Herman-Stabl, Mark Kurt Stemmler, Anne C. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

265 Scopus citations


We conducted a short-term longitudinal study examining the structure of coping behavior and the relationship between coping style and depression during adolescence. The sample consisted of 603 adolescents in Grades 6-11 who were surveyed in the fall of 1989 and again in the fall of 1990. A two-dimensional model of coping was found using confirmatory factor analysis with the factors being approach and avoidant coping. Four cross-sectional and seven longitudinal coping groups were formed to explore group differences in depression. Approach copers reported the fewest symptoms of depression, while avoidant copers reported the most. Subjects who changed over time from approach to avoidant coping evidenced a significant increase in depressive symptoms, whereas subjects who switched from avoidant to approach coping displayed a significant decrease in depression over a one-year period. These findings imply that adolescents who are able to elicit social support, engage in problem solving, and cognitively restructure events within a positive light are more likely to successfully negotiate the challenges of adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-665
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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