Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Susan M. Swearer

Date of this Version


Document Type



Damme, A. M. (2019). Weight status, bullying involvement, and internalizing symptomology in adolescents: Examining a diathesis-stress model. (Doctoral dissertation or master’s thesis). Retrieved from DigitalCommon@University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychological Studies in Education (School Psychology), Under the Supervision of Professor Susan M. Swearer. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2019

Copyright 2019 Ana Medea Damme


Bullying is a pervasive societal issue that is consistently linked to negative outcomes that are emotionally, socially, behaviorally, and medically related. Most youth will encounter this negative life event in their childhood. The purpose of this dissertation was to use a diathesis-stress model perspective to assess the relations between the negative life event of bullying involvement, youths’ mental health, and youth weight status. Youth who have an unhealthy weight status are more likely to be involved in bullying than those with a healthy weight status (Browne, 2012; Puhl). Additionally, bullying and having an unhealthy weight status are related internalizing symptomology (i.e., anxiety, depression; Fox & Farrow, 2009; Puhl & Latner, 2007). Having an unhealthy weight status does not inherently cause individuals to have mental health concerns; rather, it was hypothesized that bullying involvement (i.e., a negative life event) serves as a catalyst for developing internalizing symptomology for youth with unhealthy weight statuses (i.e., individual vulnerability). The current study found a statistically significant association between bullying involvement and weight status. Additionally, weight status and bullying involvement predicted depressive and anxious symptomology. The diathesis-stress model was partially supported within a specific weight and gender group. The study found that experiences may differ by gender and that involvement in the bullying dynamic may moderate the experience between weight status and internalizing symptomology. This study provides empirical support of the complex relationship between weight status, bullying involvement, and internalizing symptomology. Implications for research and clinical practices as well as study limitations are discussed.

Advisor: Susan M. Swearer