Date of Award

August 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Melissa M. Luke


anxiety, college students, ego identity development, mental health, negative affectivity, wellness

Subject Categories



For emerging adults, the college experience is a time for new experience that create excitement, lifelong memories, spiritual enrichment, cultural development, and success. Yet for many, the college experience presents with a series of physical, emotional, and psychological challenges, and for some even failure. It is expected that many of these students will experience such stressors, given the complexity of the stage of development, as they move away from adolescence and into adulthood. As college students move away from parental figures and develop more independence, a prominent time for identity development to thrive is created. There is a great deal of scholarly literature on the college experience, especially the stressors that students face and how college counselors can support their overall wellness. Additionally, there has been a large body of research over the past several decades on identity development of emerging adults. Yet there is scant research that explores how identity development shapes the overall wellness of college students. This research studied the relationships between negative affectivity (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress), ego identity development, and wellness of traditionally-aged undergraduate college students. It also tested if ego identity development mediates the relationship between negative affectivity and wellness. Despite significant relationships between the constructs, the results were surprising, indicating that ego identity development has less of an impact, if any, on negative affectivity and wellness as predicted. However, the results did suggest there is much more to wellness than mental health. Therefore, this study served as a foundation for a new direction in wellness research, as well as provided new ways for college counselors to engage students in supporting their overall wellness and helping them developing resiliency and the skills they need to thrive.


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