How does adolescent coping influence mood in the moment?

By December 9, 2016 Experience Sampling

How do adolescents cope? Do daily stressors affect their mood? And what is the relationship between daily problems, coping, and mood states for adolescents?

To answer of these questions, researchers in Ireland turned to an Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) phone app. They wanted to see how well a mobile phone app could collect real-life data about mood, problems, and coping efficacy, and whether or not the EMA data was correlated with standardized measures of coping and mental health. Additionally, they also wanted to see how well participants engaged with the EMA app.

For 4 weeks, 208 Irish youth from 15 to 18 years old were asked to engage with the mobile phone app and answer survey questions about the following:

  • Mood states
  • Experience of problems
  • Coping efficacy
  • Sense of connectedness
  • Well-being

Sleep and physical activity were monitored as well.

Although there were a few participant engagement problems, the study found that

  • Experiencing more daily problems was correlated with lower happiness and higher negative affect
  • Coping efficacy had no relationship to problems, stress, or worry.
  • Better coping efficacy was related to more happiness and positive moods.

These results demonstrate that effective coping for adolescents may reduce the sadness and anger that are normally associated with a larger number of daily problems.

Overall, the researchers found that EMA responses were correlated with standardized measures of coping and mental health. Further, this study showed that EMA data is useful for numerous real-time studies, including the relationship between problems, coping, and mood in adolescents.

Kenny, R., Dooley, B., & Fitzgerald, A. (2016). Ecological Momentary Assessment of Adolescent Problems, Coping Efficacy, and Mood States Using a Mobile Phone App: An Exploratory Study. JMIR Mental Health, 3(4), e51.

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