Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

A Longitudinal Analysis of Psychosocial Coping, Religious/Spiritual Appraisals, and Religious/Spiritual Coping in Predicting College Students' Adjustment to Non-Marital Breakup

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Annette Mahoney (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Kenneth Pargament (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Anne Gordon (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Karen Guzzo (Committee Member)


Despite burgeoning interest among researchers in the psychology of emerging adults, very little research has explored the helpful or harmful psychosocial and R/S coping strategies emerging adults employ as a means to cope with non-marital romantic relationship dissolution. This study longitudinally examined the role of psychosocial coping methods, religious/spiritual appraisals, and religious/spiritual coping methods in the long-term adjustment of emerging adults to non-marital romantic breakup. One-hundred and thirteen undergraduate university students completed measures at Time 1 about their experience of the breakup of their most recent mutually exclusive non-marital romantic relationship, and they completed follow-up measures one year later at Time 2. Principal component analyses were conducted to ensure that psychosocial coping methods and religious/spiritual coping methods were appropriately grouped into helpful versus unhelpful categories for the post-breakup context with this particular sample. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that participants’ psychosocial coping methods at T1 were longitudinally associated with some areas of post-breakup adjustment and growth at T2. In addition, regression analyses indicated that sacred loss/desecration appraisals of the breakup at T1 and religious/spiritual coping methods at T1 were longitudinally associated with some areas of post-breakup adjustment and growth at T2. Finally, mediation analyses highlighted that religious/spiritual coping resources mediated longitudinal links between T1 sacred loss/desecration appraisals of the breakup and T2 adjustment and personal growth. This study is the first of its kind to provide longitudinal evidence that religion and spirituality are relevant to emerging adults’ adjustment to non-marital breakup.