Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Youth and Adolescence 38 (2009), pp. 122–136; doi: 10.1007/s10964-008-9291-x


Copyright © 2008 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. Used by permission.


Building on research that links gender to differences in well-being and differences in stress exposure and vulnerability, the current study examines how coping styles are gendered in ways that may contribute to sex differences in depressive symptoms and delinquent behavior. The study disaggregates stress measures to reflect gender differences in the experience of stress, examining whether avoidant, approach, and action coping condition the relationship between stress and well-being. Regression analyses were conducted using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Results revealed sex differences and similarities. The interaction of avoidant coping and stress helped explain why girls had more depressive symptoms than boys, action coping increased delinquent behavior for girls, while approach coping decreased delinquent behavior for boys and girls. Assisting adolescents in developing coping styles that discourage avoiding problems or taking quick action, but that encourage problem-solving, can improve well-being, regardless of sex.