Interpersonal Stress and Coping in First Year Undergraduate Students: Insights from Behavioral, Self-Report, and Neural Data
The transition to college exacerbates stress, and coping strategies like cognitive reappraisal can moderate how interpersonal stress affects psychological well-being, with individual differences in reappraisal being measurable at the neural level using the late positive potential (LPP) component. The present study sought to understand A) where and when there is a significant modulation in the LPP with implementation of cognitive reappraisal and B) the relationship between self-reported coping with interpersonal stress and modulation of the LPP using cognitive reappraisal, and C) the relationships of self-reported coping and LPP modulation with interpersonal stress and depression and anxiety symptoms. First-year Vanderbilt students were recruited within their first 6 months of college to complete self-reported stress and coping questionnaires and complete tasks using electroencephalogram. For the early time window over centroparietal region, cognitive reappraisal significantly reduced the amplitude of the LPP, but effects of reappraisal were not significant in later time windows or over frontal region. There was not a significant relationship between self-reported and neurophysiological indicators of coping, although there was a relationship between self-reported coping and depression, as well as LPP and depression.