Masters Thesis

The Interplay of Personality on Psychological Distress, with the Mediation of Social Support.

Psychological distress is described as unpleasant feelings or emotions that negatively impact an individual’s level of functioning (Ridner, 2004, Williams, 2003). Furthermore, the personality traits of neuroticism and extraversion are strongly associated with psychological distress. Specifically, higher levels of neuroticism and lower levels of extraversion are linked to higher levels of psychological distress. However, the mechanisms that underlie these links are not well understood. Social support is one plausible candidate as a mechanism through which neuroticism, and extraversion are linked to psychological distress. The proposed study examined the extent to which social support mediates the association between neuroticism and psychological distress and between extraversion and psychological distress. This study used data from the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) study, which includes a sample of 7,108 adults ranging in age from 25 to 74 years old. The results showed that extraversion and neuroticism were negatively correlated. Extraversion was positively correlated with social support, and negatively correlated with psychological distress. Neuroticism was negatively correlated with social support, and negatively correlated with psychological distress. Social support was also negatively correlated with psychological distress. A series of regression analyses were run in SPSS in order to test the proposed mediations. No support for the proposed mediations were found, but extraversion, social support, and iii neuroticism were found to each independently predict psychological distress. Study implications, limitations, and the suggested direction of future research are all discussed.

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