Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Philip Brenner

Second Advisor

Reef Youngreen

Third Advisor

Stephanie Hartwell


The impact the Great Recession has had on personal and household income has generated increased attention from government, private and public industry, and the US population writ large. More attention, however, needs to be directed towards how social roles are causing stress for individuals of differing social statuses during this moment of economic recovery. This project proposes a cross-sectional examination of individual and group wellbeing with individual self-definition as an important predictor of stress outcomes (e.g., depression) and maladaptive coping mechanisms (e.g., prescription pill misuse). Specifically, this study investigates the identity importance (i.e., prominence) of self-definition within multiple role-identities (e.g., parent, spouse/partner, worker), aspirational (wishes) and obligational (oughts) expectations related to these roles, and the impact this has on overall stress outcomes. Additionally, this study takes into account the variability of stress along multiple social statuses (e.g., gender, race, socioeconomic status, age) and the self-perceived absence of role-identities (e.g., being unemployed, being single). Lastly, a survey experiment is conducted to determine if adults rank or rate role-identities. Under exploration is whether hierarchies or equivalent values emerge among prominent adult role-identities. It extends earlier work (Higgins 1987; Marcussen 2006; Thoits 1992, 2012; Silva 2012 ) by collecting survey data from a non-probability web panel of the US general adult population. This project aims to further link theory and research from three literatures: social psychology, sociology of mental health, and survey methodology.


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