The present study investigated how European adolescents cope with perceived future-related stress. Altogether 3,154 adolescents (mean age of 15 years) from four countries (n = 1,071 Italians, n = 1,433 Germans, n = 308 French, and n = 341 British) participated in the study. They completed the Problem Questionnaire, which assesses future-related stress, and the CASQ, which assesses how three coping styles (active coping, internal coping, and withdrawal) are used to deal with future-related stress. German and British adolescents showed low levels of stress, whereas French and Italian adolescents had high levels. All adolescents anticipated future-related problems but did not portray their futures negatively. In addition, they dealt with future-related stress actively and showed high levels of coping competence. Adolescents used active coping strategies most frequently, followed by thinking about possible solutions. Dysfunctional coping strategies (e.g., withdrawal) were used much less often. The effects of age, gender, and family variables on stress perception and coping style were negligible. Overall, our findings highlight the tenets of positive psychology by revealing that adolescents are concerned about their futures and that they show high agency in dealing with future-related problems. Further, the findings are relevant for positive youth development programs, especially those which endorse positive orientation to the future and coping competence.
- coping competence