Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Name

Education Specialist (Ed.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Shannon Suldo, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lindsey O'Brennan, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick, Ph.D.


adolescents, High School Accelerated Curricula, Stress self-report


Eustress, the positive response to stress, is a relatively understudied concept. Most of the research on eustress has been concentrated in the occupational and management setting. Empirical studies of eustress in adolescents are absent, even though youth experience unique sources and magnitudes of stress. Specifically, Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) students report more stress than their general education peers but excel in their rigorous academic program. Eustress is related to a variety of positive psychological and physiological outcomes among adult samples, which makes it an important concept to explore in adolescent samples. Many constructs such as self-efficacy, hope, meaningfulness, flow, engagement and coping have correlated with eustress among samples of adults. This study investigated different aspects of eustress in a sample of 2379 AP and IB students (grades 9 – 12), and explored if its relationship with positive outcomes (among adults) holds true in this population. First, the psychometric properties of a modified self-report measure of eustress were examined. Results from this study supported a five-item eustress measure that had adequate reliability (α= .85) and construct validity based on a confirmatory factor analysis. Second, differences between the eustress measure in different subgroups, namely gender, grade level, and academic program were explored. Only a significant difference in eustress was found between grade levels, indicating that students in upper grade levels had higher levels of eustress. Third, relationships between eustress scores and a nomological network of theoretically similar constructs (potential correlates) and salient outcomes – indicators of students’ academic and emotional success— were examined. Consistent with previous literature, eustress had a significant positive relationship with task-focused coping, cognitive and affective engagement, self-efficacy, flow, and grit. Eustress had a negative relationship with distress and emotion-focused coping. Related to student outcomes, eustress was a significant predictor of higher levels of positive indicators of success—GPA and life satisfaction— lower levels of indicators of undesirable outcomes—school burnout and psychopathology. Implications for practitioners and future directions for research are discussed.