Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 36 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Hazel M Prelow

Committee Members

Leslie F Halpern


academic competence, adolescence, depression, racial differences, stressors, Depression in adolescence, Stress in adolescence, Academic achievement, Violence

Subject Categories



Objectives: The purpose of this study is to investigate whether adolescents’ perceptions of academic competence serve as a mediator of the relationship between various kinds of stressful experiences and depression symptoms. Additionally, we hypothesized that the utility of this model would change with adolescents’ race. Methods: The sample consisted of 260 adolescents, approximately half of whom were African American (N = 141) and half of whom were European American (N = 119). Measures were administered to participants at a single time point via in-school questionnaires, and the resulting data were analyzed both for mediation and with moderated path analyses. Results: Contrary to the hypotheses, only the effect of exposure to violence on depression symptoms was mediated by academic competence. However, race moderated the indirect path from discrimination experiences to depression via academic competence such that there was a significant negative effect for European Americans, but not for African Americans. Race also moderated the indirect path from exposure to violence to depression via competence. In this analysis, there was a significant positive effect for African Americans, but not for European Americans. None of the direct pathways from stressors to depression were moderated by race. Conclusions: These findings indicate greater exposure to violence decreases perceptions of academic competence, which in turn contributes to depressive symptomatology. However, differences in the direction of effects also suggest that exposure to certain stressors, particularly discrimination and violence, may be more strongly related to depression outcomes for African American adolescents compared to European Americans, increasing their risk.

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