, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 89-115

Psychosocial Correlates of Affective Distress: Latent-Variable Models of Male and Female Adolescents in a Community Sample

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Abstract

Latent-variable confirmatory factor analysis was used to examine the interrelationships of depressive and anxious symptomatology and 13 measures of psychosocial functioning in a community-based sample of adolescents participating in a school-based drug abuse prevention intervention. Measures of psychosocial functioning included: cognitive self-efficacy, self-management, self-reinforcement, decision-making and problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, social anxiety, behavioral style, risk taking, conventionality, somatic complaints, perceived tangible, and adult support. Simultaneous group comparison and nested hierarchical tests were used to statistically contrast parameters obtained from male and female models. Overall, the hypothetical constructs were statistically reliable and models were psychometrically sound. Partial factorial invariance was obtained, however, the patterns of covariation between distress and psychosocial functioning were dissimilar for male and female youth. Differences clustered around affective distress, cognitive skills, and perceived functional support. More socially anxious females perceived less social support, whereas support and anxiety were positively related among male students. Male youth with high levels of conventional behavior were also socially anxious, whereas for females this relationship was absent and nonsignificant. For both male and female students, distress was moderately and inversely related to cognitive efficacy and personal competence skills. Distressed youth were also less conventional (behavioral control) and less diligent, and were characterized by greater sensation-seeking, poorer competence, and perceived less social support, and were more socially anxious with less interpersonal skills. Findings are discussed in terms of potential contributors to gender differences in distress and psychosocial functioning and their implications for the understanding of adolescent mental health.