Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Psychology


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Noel Howieson


A growing body of research indicates the importance of coping strategies when an individual responds to environmental demands. Community concern about the maladaptive responses of some adolescents, limited research with this age group, and the development of a new Australian measure of adolescent coping provided the impetus for this study. The study was conducted with 141 female students in their final year of High School. They completed the Adolescent Coping Scale (ACS) in March, and measures of anxiety and self-confidence in November, just before major external examinations. Behavioural rating scales were completed by parents and teachers. The adolescent group reported frequent use of coping strategies which research indicates are likely to be effective, and relatively little use of ineffective strategies. When facing a severe academic stressor, they were self-confident but reported very high levels of anxiety, which was cognitive rather than somatic in focus. The few students whose ACS scores showed relatively high use of ineffective and low use of effective coping strategies were identified as "At risk". When compared with a contrasting sub-group, the "At-risk" students were significantly more anxious and less self-confident. There was no evidence that parents or teachers were aware of the adolescents' high levels of anxiety. The findings provide support for the predictive validity of the ACS, and have implications for helping adolescents cope with stress and developmental demands. Further research directions are suggested.