Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Gadke, Daniel

Committee Member

McCleon, Tawny

Committee Member

Morse, David

Committee Member

Mazahreh, Laith

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Educational Psychology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


As students mature the types and frequency of stressors increase with age. Notably, middle school can be a stressful transition period that includes new peer relationships and hormonal changes, along with an increased probability of experiencing bullying and suicide ideation. Stress has been shown to have negative effects in psychological and physiological functioning among adolescents (Brietzke et al., 2012; De Young, Kenardy, & Cobham, 2011; Green et al., 2010). Effective coping skills can help to buffer these issues, giving adolescents a repertoire of tools to use. Along with that, proper emotional regulation has been shown decrease the negative effects of stress on adolescents (Berking & Whitley, 2014; Braet et al., 2014; Moriya & Takashi, 2013). These skills may be particularly important amongst adolescents living in rural areas, as they face unique and often more difficult challenges compared their urban counterparts (Imig, Bokemeier, Keefe, Struthers, & Imig, 1997; Sherman, 2006). However, research exploring rural populations is limited and does not focus on the mostly rural populated areas of the southern United States (Strong, Del Grosso, Burwick, Jethwani, & Ponza, 2005). To address the gaps in research, the purpose of the current study was to investigate if coping response styles predicted perceived stress scores in middle school students living in rural areas. Additionally, the purpose was to explore if emotional regulation moderated the relationship between coping and perceived stress. Multiple regression analysis was used to explore the predictability of coping on perceived stress scores (i.e., Perceived Stress Scale). Moreover, hierarchal regression analysis was used to explore moderation of emotional regulation on coping and perceived stress. Data were collected from a northeastern school in a rural area in Mississippi from a sample of 149 middle school students. The results indicated that coping is a statistically significant predictor of perceived stress scores, indicating that the better a student was at coping, the less likely he or she was to report perceived stress. Lastly, results revealed that a student’s emotional regulation does not strengthen or weaken their coping responses effect on perceived stress. Understanding how theses variables work together will provide educators with knowledge that is vital to development of prevention and intervention strategies.