Adolescent Coping: Theoretical and Research Perspectives

Adolescent Coping: Theoretical and Research Perspectives

Adolescent Coping: Theoretical and Research Perspectives

Adolescent Coping: Theoretical and Research Perspectives


Adolescence is a time when coping is very important, since many new experiences and responsibilities are thrust upon young people. Frydenberg considers the measurement of coping, and looks at areas such as social support and depression.



If life is just one damn thing after another, then coping (perceiving and reacting to those damn things) is the active aspect of living. Everyone must endure uncertainty, pain, success, and sorrow, but the way one copes with each day’s demands defines each individual. To live is to cope, and suicide is the only response to life’s problems that does not require coping skills.

In this unusual book, Erica Frydenberg focuses on adolescent coping. Her portrayal emphasizes a central aspect of all human experience, that coping depends on each individual’s perception of the world and of the self. The world is not a given; it is defined by each perceiver.

This book uses several devices to organize the diverse, and often divergent, findings from a large body of empirical research. First, coping is related to such variables as temperament, age, self-concept, and gender. Second, the family is examined, both as an arena in which adolescents must cope, and as an environment in which adolescents learn, often inadvertently, from their observation of the coping behaviors of other family members. Third, there is a focus on certain specific topics, such as social support, depression, and resilience. Finally, there is a discussion of interventions to teach effective ways of coping to adolescents.

In this volume, coping successfully serves as a window to other diverse and important adolescent processes. For example, gifted adolescents experience stress due to their own perfectionism and their lack of past failures. In general, success in some domain of achievement leads to greater optimism and more functional coping. Yet, accustomed to success, the gifted may employ high standards in their self-evaluated outcomes and see failure where others might see relative success. In some cases, the gifted adolescents’ lack of experience with failure reduces their ability to cope with unexpected reverses. In reviewing such findings, Frydenberg makes clear the complexity of the world as it is perceived by adolescents. If helpful interventions are to be designed, researchers must understand the goals and concerns of the adolescents themselves.

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