2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Megan L. Smith


Adolescents can face many challenges including Negative Life Events (sometimes called Adverse Childhood Experiences) such as experiencing the death of a family member or being diagnosed with a chronic illness. Previous studies have shown that negative life events (NLEs) can lead to higher levels of anxiety for adolescents, but social support can buffer these symptoms. It is also known that experiencing NLEs may be associated with a less positive sense of identity, which could have long-term impacts. We conducted a secondary data analysis with data from the Integrated Community Engagement (ICE) project in West Virginia which included adolescent participants (n=17,618; aged 11-18) attending public school. We tested an interaction effect using a Multiple Regression model to understand whether social support could potentially buffer the impact of NLEs on positive future identity. Results of the final model, after controlling for age, gender, and race, were significant (F (69,510) = 947.25, p < .01; R2 =0.37). The interaction term of NLEs and social support was significant (Beta= -0.63). Our findings indicate that social support may buffer the impact of NLEs on identity. With this, schools may want to focus on implementing stronger support systems for students who experience negative life events.



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