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How do personality, life events, and gender interact to affect college adjustment?




Christensen, Elizabeth, author
Rosén, Lee, advisor
Amell, Jim, committee member
Bloom, Larry, committee member
Richards, Tracy, committee member

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Research has suggested that people who are high in certain dispositional personality traits like Extraversion, Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience are better able to adapt to the stress that comes with the transition into college. Conversely, persons low in Emotional Stability (Neuroticism) have been shown to demonstrate poor social and emotional development, higher rates of anxiety and depression in college, and steeper attrition rates. As a college diploma has become the springboard for success in our society, resiliency research has begun to focus on how negative life events may affect the ability for young adults to transition from high school to college life. This study examined the relationship of the Big Five personality variables and college adjustment using Life Events and gender as moderators. Participants consisted of 301 undergraduate psychology students currently attending a large western university. The results from hierarchical regression analyses showed that while Conscientiousness, Extraversion and Emotional Stability individually significantly accounted for a significant amount of the variance in college adjustment there was no evidence to support the presence of either a two or three-way interaction between these traits, gender and life events. The three-way interaction found between gender, Life Events and Openness to Experience, however, significantly improved predictions regarding college adjustment. Implications for research and practice are considered.


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big five
life events
college adjustment


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