An assessment of perceived social support and personal goal strivings in the context of adolescent resilience

Maryjane Fellows, Fordham University


This study assessed adolescent resilience and the protective functions of perceived social support and personal goal strivings on adjustment in the context of risk. Identified protective factors were examined with increased specificity in an effort to refine the constructs associated with resilience. It was thought that a refinement of the constructs would contribute to a better understanding of the processes leading to a resilient outcome. Thus perceptions of family, friend and school personnel support were assessed, as were personal goal strivings. Resilience was defined as manifest competence despite experienced risk. The hypotheses predicted either a compensatory model (i.e., an additive model of stress and protective factors) or an interaction-effect model according to the indices assessed. Measures of perceived social support, personal goal strivings, competency, life stress and overall mental health were administered to one hundred and sixty-six adolescents from two New York high schools. The results identified the compensatory model of resilience; however, the interaction model was not identified as predicted. The compensatory model of resilience was established with perceived social support from family for behavioral conduct and self-esteem competencies. An interaction effect was also established for the overall mental health and social acceptance outcomes; however, the graphs depicting the interactions were not as predicted. Overall mental health was shown to decrease sharply under conditions of stress for high support adolescents; whereas, social acceptance increased for low support participants under conditions of stress. The compensatory model of resilience was established for school support with regard to conduct and overall mental health; whereas, for friend support the compensatory model was identified with self-esteem and overall mental health. A compensatory model was also established for personal goal strivings with the overall mental health and global self-worth competencies. Resilience defined as maintained competence under high levels of stress was not identified. However, resilience defined as increased competency given higher amounts of the protective factor was established The adolescents studied were not impervious to life stress and the competencies appeared to decrease under stress; however, for most competencies the decline was modest and never as extreme as those with low levels of perceived support/personal goal striving.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Fellows, Maryjane, "An assessment of perceived social support and personal goal strivings in the context of adolescent resilience" (2004). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3116863.