Rapid social and economic changes in most industrialized countries have increased the level of uncertainty and precariousness to which young people are exposed. Adolescents are increasingly preoccupied with their future in terms of education, jobs, and career. The current study was aimed at investigating: 1) the stress for the future and the coping styles; 2) gender, age, and living place differences in stress and coping; 3) the relationships between coping styles and future-related stress. 916 Italian adolescents of both sexes, ages 11 to 20, attending public middle and high schools in two living places with different levels of unemployment (lower in Turin, higher in Naples) participated in the study. Adolescents completed the questionnaires “Coping Across Situations Questionnaire” and “Problem Questionnaire”. Main findings showed that: 1) the adolescents perceive the future as the most stressful domain and they use active and internal coping more than withdrawal; 2) stress is higher among girls than boys; younger use coping strategies more than older; c) stress is higher in Turin and internal coping and withdrawal is higher in Naples; 4) stress is: a) positively related to active coping and negatively related to withdrawal (especially in Naples where there is also a negative relation with internal coping); b) withdrawal moderates the effect of active coping. When the context offers too few opportunities for the future, active coping seems ineffective in reducing perceived stress.
Key words: Societal uncertainty, stress for the future, coping strategies, adolescents.
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