Stressful Life Events and Predictors of Post-traumatic Growth among High-Risk Early Emerging Adults

J Posit Psychol. 2016 Jan 1;11(1):1-14. doi: 10.1080/17439760.2014.994223. Epub 2014 Dec 24.


Stressful life events (SLEs) may elicit positive psychosocial change among youth, referred to as Post-traumatic Growth (PTG). We assessed types of SLEs experienced, degree to which participants reported PTG, and variables predicting PTG across 24 months among a sample of high risk, ethnically diverse early emerging adults. Participants were recruited from alternative high schools (n = 564; mean age=16.8; 65% Hispanic). Multi-level regression models were constructed to examine the impact of environmental (SLE quantity, severity) and personal factors (hedonic ability, perceived stress, developmental stage, future time orientation) on a composite score of PTG. The majority of participants reported positive changes resulted from their most life-altering SLE of the past two years. Predictors of PTG included fewer SLEs, less general stress, having a future time perspective, and greater identification with the developmental stage of Emerging Adulthood. Findings suggest intervention targets to foster positive adaptation among early emerging adults who experience frequent SLEs.

Keywords: Hispanic; Post-traumatic Growth; adolescents; alternative high school; emerging adulthood; future time orientation; resilience; stressful life events.