Optimism, coping style, hardiness and anxiety, as mediators of response to a meaningful stressor

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Paul H. Blaney - Committee Chair


This study has attempted to consolidate both pre-existing theory and empirical findings related to affective reactions to outcomes of a meaningful stressor. Repeated Measures Analyses of Covariance with appropriate follow-up procedures and Fisher Z tests were used to determine effects related to the independent variables on depression and somatic symptoms after taking the Bar exam. When necessary, the reactions of those who passed were compared to those who failed across levels of the independent variables. The total sample was comprised of 60 law students of whom 47 passed the Bar and 13 failed. The study is overwhelmingly supportive of the individual relationships that have been cited in the literature concerning the relationship of a particular independent variable to the other independent variables and the dependent variables. Particularly interesting was the counterintuitive finding in which a variable that was previously thought to be a buffer of negative affect and symptoms (hardiness) following stress, prospectively enhanced self-report of these dependent variables. This speaks to the need for studying the process of reaction to stress over time, using large samples and diverse situations which take into account the meaning of the stressor for the population, availability of coping options and personality resources.


Psychology, Clinical; Psychology, Personality

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