Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Holli Drummond (Director), Dr. Jerry Daday, Dr. Douglas Clayton Smith

Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Sociology


Stress and strain impact our ability to achieve success in the goals we set. To understand the stress process better, this study uses a survey of undergraduates in order to 1) identify types of stressful experiences, 2) understand the mediating role of negative emotions, 3) evaluate how stress and emotions are related to student involvement in alcohol and drug use and self injury.

In addition to such analyses, the present study investigates the extent to which these pathologies (i.e., from strain to emotions and behaviors) vary by gender. The general strain theory (GST) serves as a theoretical framework for the present study; however, composite measures have failed to identify which particular strains are more strongly or weakly linked to delinquency (Agnew 2001) and how the effects of such unique types of strain vary by gender and other social categories.

Data were collected by administering an 87-item survey to a sample of approximately 820 college undergraduates at a medium-sized university located in the Southeastern region of the United States. Linear and logistic regression analyses were used to measure the relationships among social categories, strain, negative emotions, and deviant behaviors. Findings suggest that a) females experience higher levels of strain, b) most strains are associated with at least one outcome, c) anger and depression mediate some of the effects of strain on negative outcomes, and d) gender moderates the effect of negative emotions on self injury, alcohol, and drug use.


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology

Included in

Sociology Commons