Mississippi State University
Date of Degree
Dissertation - Open Access
Human Development and Family Science
Doctor of Philosophy
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
School of Human Sciences
Anxiety is a prevalent health concern for emerging adults and the top concern for those seeking mental health treatment. The purpose of this study was to investigate the features of emerging adulthood (i.e., identity exploration, feelings of optimism about possibilities, instability, selfocus, and feeling in-between), which may be predictive of anxiety symptoms, as well as explore factors (i.e., differentiation of self and social comparison orientation using social media), which may intensify or lessen the anxiety symptoms. The study sample included 598 emerging adults between the ages of 18 and 25. The results of this study suggested that identity exploration, instability, and feeling in-between contribute to higher anxiety symptoms. While higher differentiation of self can be a strength in emerging adulthood, and is associated with lower anxiety, higher social comparison orientation may serve as a risk factor, as it is associated with higher anxiety symptoms. Social comparison orientation using social media was also found to moderate the relationship between optimism about possibilities and anxiety. Specifically, at higher levels of social comparison orientation using social media, increased optimism about possibilities predicted higher anxiety. At lower levels of social comparison orientation using social media, increased optimism about possibilities predicted lower anxiety. These findings have implications for clinicians and educational professionals working with the emerging adult population.
Wenth, Kayla Lloyd, "Mental health during emerging adulthood: The role of differentiation of self and social comparison orientation using social media" (2020). Theses and Dissertations. 3061.