The Differential Effects of Perceived Social Support on Adolescent Hope: Testing the Moderating Effects of Age and Gender

Abstract

In an effort to deepen our understanding of the development of one future-oriented psychological strength, hope, we examined how multiple sources of perceived social support (i.e., parent, teacher, classmate, friend) predicted hope and if these relations were moderated by age and gender in adolescents across a 1-year time span. Our sample was composed of adolescents in middle and high schools with ages ranging from 10 to 19 years old (Mage = 14.19, SD = 2.05) living in the United States (N = 991). The results showed that perceived social support from parents significantly predicted later hope in adolescents, and this relation was moderated by age but not gender. Specifically, the effect of perceived social support from parents on later hope declined as age increased. Perceived social support from teachers, classmates, and friends did not predict later hope, after controlling for baseline hope and race; neither age nor gender moderated the relation between these sources of social support and hope. These findings suggest that it is necessary to consider the developmental needs associated with ages within adolescence when promoting adolescents’ hope, especially in the family context. Future directions to extend the understanding of hope development and implications of the findings in mental health practices are discussed.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The exception was a statistically significant association between retained status and grade, χ2 (9) = 261.30, p < .05, as 12th graders withdrew more than any other age group due to graduation.

  2. 2.

    Independent samples t-tests revealed that students who withdrew reported significantly lower levels of hope, t(989) = 2.29, p < .05, perceived social support from parents, t(977) = 3.68, p < .01, and teachers, t(986) = 5.06, p < .01, relative to those who were retained. Results from the logistic regression with attrition status as the outcome, suggested that being 12th graders, being of Hispanic decent, and perceiving lower levels of support from teacher were associated with an increased likelihood of withdrawing from the study, though the actual reason for attrition was unknown.

  3. 3.

    The development of the CHS was based on the Adult Hope Scale (AHS; Snyder et al. 1991). The CHS includes questions with the same semantic meaning as the AHS, though slight wording differences were used to ensure the language was developmentally appropriate. Also, the CHS is not a standardized measure and therefore does not have age norms. Although the current sample includes participants who are over the age of 16, it is considered appropriate to administer the CHS to these older adolescents, which also keep the measures simple and consistent in data collection. Similar justifications were also provided in previous studies (e.g., Suldo and Huebner 2004).

  4. 4.

    Tables reporting these results are submitted for peer review in supplemental tables. These results can be provided upon request.

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Archer, C.M., Jiang, X., Thurston, I.B. et al. The Differential Effects of Perceived Social Support on Adolescent Hope: Testing the Moderating Effects of Age and Gender. Child Ind Res 12, 2079–2094 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-019-9628-x

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Keywords

  • Hope
  • Social support
  • Adolescents
  • Age
  • Gender