Master's Theses

Date of Award

Spring 2001

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Richard P. Schellenberg

Abstract

Current research indicates that family environment factors can affect a person's psychological well-being. However, there tends to be a paucity of research investigating whether or not these various family environment factors are associated with the use of different coping strategies to deal with stress and problems. Studies have also shown that living in an urban vs. living in a rural setting can differently affect the ways in which people cope with life stress and problems. The majority of these studies have involved children or elderly individuals, omitting the young and middle adulthood years. Also, there appears to be no research that has studied whether certain combinations of these family environment factors and rural vs. urban residency are related to the coping strategies people use to deal with stress and problems. Concurrent study of these variables may result in increased understanding about the ways in which they arc related and impact a person. Therefore, the main purpose of the present thesis was to investigate relationships among living in rural vs. urban settings, various family environmental factors, and coping strategies simultaneously in a sample of young to middle aged adults. To help fill the gaps in the current body of research, this study investigated four sets of hypotheses. The first set involved relationships between living in a rural vs. urban setting and adaptive vs. maladaptive coping strategies as measured by the COPE instrument. The second set of hypotheses predicted associations between family environment variables, as measured by the Family Environment Scale (FES), and living in rural vs. urban settings. The third set of hypotheses posited relationships between various family environment variables, as measured by the FES, and adaptive vs. maladaptive coping strategies, as measured by the COPE instrument. The fourth set of hypotheses is the key feature of this study, and appears not to have been studied by prior research. This set involved examining moderating effects or family environment variables on relationships between living in rural vs. urban settings and coping strategies. The present study used a volunteer sample or 90 participants enrolled in undergraduate classes at a small mid-western university. These participants were administered a series or questionnaires that included the COPE instrument to assess coping strategies, the FES to assess social-environmental characteristics or their families, and a questionnaire to assess demographic information and determine rural vs. urban residency or the participants. The results or this study provided strong indication that there is a significant difference in the way rural and urban individuals typically cope with stress and problems, that there are significant differences in the social-environment climate of families living in a rural selling compared to those living in urban settings, and that certain family environment factors are significantly associated with the use of particular types of coping strategies. And, in terms or the key feature of this study, family environment factors were shown to have the ability to moderate the relationship found between the use of certain types of coping strategies and living in rural vs. urban settings.

Rights

Copyright 2001 Jennifer Voth

Comments

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