Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Moderating Role of Positive and Negative Affect on the Relationship between Perceived Social Support and Stress in College Students

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

The Moderating Role of Positive and Negative Affect on the Relationship between Perceived Social Support and Stress in College Students

Article excerpt

Stress, a force that many people face and try to cope with in the normal flow of life, is also an inevitable and natural part of the daily life of university students who face the peculiar difficulties of college life. College years are a time when students are responsible for their own health, school life, economic conditions and management of their own lives (Cress & Lampman, 2007; Darling, McWey, Howard, & Olmstead, 2007). This period is accepted as a time in which various difficulties are faced from academic work to uncertainty of what the future holds, from interpersonal relations to romantic relations, from self-problems to familial issues (Chao, 2012). Research shows that 75% of college students perceive themselves as moderately stressed and 12% as highly stressed (Pierceall & Keim, 2007). Concerns about academic achievement, uncertainty about their future, economic hardship, family related problems, difficulties in relations with the opposite sex, and interpersonal relations may also be sources of stress for students (Brougham, Zail, Mendoza, & Miller, 2009; Chao, 2012; Darling et al., 2007; Otrar, Eksi, Dilmaç, & Sirin, 2002; Ross, Niebling, & Heckert, 1999). Moreover, students also may face stress related to daily life such as health issues, conflicts with faculty, public speech, conflicts with roommates, increasing study loads, and changes in sleeping and eating habits (Darling et al., 2007; Dusselier, Dunn, Wang, Shelley, & Whalen, 2005; Ross et al., 1999).

The stress students may face during university life due to personal, social, academic, economic, and other hardships is a concept related to various adjustment variables. Previous research has shown that stress in college students is related to negative indicators of mental health such as depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide (Dusselier et al., 2005; Eisenbarth, 2012; Jou & Fukada, 2002; Otrar et al., 2002; Pengilly & Dowd, 2000; Wilbum & Smith, 2005) and positive indicators such as happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, optimism, and hardiness (Cress & Lampman, 2007; Eisenbarth, 2012; Extremera, Durán, & Rey, 2009; Krypel & Henderson-King, 2010; Matheny et al., 2002; Pengilly & Dowd, 2000; Schiffrin & Nelson, 2010; Wilbum & Smith, 2005). As can be seen, the stress college students often face and try to cope with due to the challenging experiences of being a young adult is an important variable of mental health in regard to psychological adjustment.

Various personal sources for university students such as self-disclosure, trust that they will be able to cope with stress, and time and energy management may be functional sources (Matheny et al., 2002). One of the important ways for students to cope with stress is social support (Chao, 2012; Laurence, Williams, & Eiland, 2009). Students naturally seek social support from friends and family when facing stress, and with this support it may be easier for them to cope with stress (Chao, 2012). Previous studies have shown that social support is one of the stress coping sources that predicts perceived stress in college students (Matheny et al., 2002) and only support from family, friends, and faculty have a protective factor function against stress (Bland, Melton, Welle, & Bigham, 2012). Furthermore, there are various relational studies indicating that stress decreases in college students when social support increases (i.e., Chao, 2012; Green, DeCourville, & Sadava, 2012; Luo & Wang, 2009; Pengilly & Dowd, 2000; Reifman & Dunkel-Schetter, 1990; Wright, King, & Rosenberg, 2014). It has also been revealed that social support provides a moderator function between stress and psychological wellbeing (Chao, 2011, 2012) and between stress and depression (Pengilly & Dowd, 2000). Thus, this shows that social support has a buffer role on the negative effect of stress on psychological well-being and depression.

On the other hand, there are some studies suggesting that the role of social support in decreasing stress may be limited due to some psychological variables. …

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