2021 Student Research Conference:
34th Annual Student Research Conference

Who Thrives After a Stressful Life Event?


Rachel C. Whaley*, Lydia R. Helfrich, and Morgan W. Ireland
Dr. Jeffrey Vittengl, Faculty Mentor

Long-term reactions to stressful life events vary, perhaps because individuals construct different types of narratives (stories) about those events. We tested the hypothesis that undergraduates who construct stressful life event narratives that include redemption (identifying some good among the bad) have higher psychological well-being. Undergraduates (N = 178) wrote about a personal stressful event from the past two years and completed measures of current depression, anxiety, and life satisfaction. Readers coded narratives for redemption via agency (increased self-efficacy/understanding) and communion (improved interpersonal relationships). Redemption agency appeared in 50% of students’ narratives and correlated with higher life satisfaction (.19), lower depression (-.25), and lower anxiety (-.20), ps < .05. Redemption communion appeared in 11% of narratives and predicted higher depression (.17) and anxiety (.20), ps < .05, however. Future research should clarify whether redemption in students’ narratives about stressful life events is a cause, or only a correlate, of long-term psychological well-being.

Keywords: Stressful Life Event, Narratives, Redemption, Agency, Communion, Depression, Anxiety, Satisfaction With Life

Topic(s):Psychology

Presentation Type: Asynchronous Virtual Poster

Session: 18-2
Location: https://flipgrid.com/fc0c5b54
Time: 0:00

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