Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Frederick Lorenz

Second Advisor

Terry Besser

Third Advisor

Lois Morton


There is a well-established literature that both psychological distress and mental disorders are linked to the gradient of socioeconomic status (SES). According to the stress process model or the life stress paradigm, SES could affect mental health in at least two ways: first, by creating situations where lower SES people tend to experience stressors in greater quantity; second, by enhancing (e.g., due to underexposure of stress for high SES people) or undermining (e.g., due to overexposure of stress for low SES people) coping resources that are beneficial to psychological wellbeing. While the stress process model or the life stress paradigm underscores an intra-personal process where changes in stress, resources, and distress are hypothesized to be inter-correlated within the same individual over time, most previous research on testing relevant hypotheses has been cross-sectional by design, focusing on between-person differences in stress, resources, and distress across the SES spectrum. Even among those exceptions that have collected data at multiple occasions in time, the prevailing analytic approaches have failed to take into account individual variations in the trajectories (either growth or decline) of stress, resources, and distress across time. This study extends previous research by using panel data and latent growth curve (LGC) modeling to examine the extent to which intra-individual changes in depressive symptoms are related to fluctuations in financial strain and mastery, which in turn, are conditioned by chronic level of income as a relatively stable SES attribute. This study also adds to previous research by investigating the causal sequence between psychological distress as indexed by depressive symptoms and a major form of personal resources as reflected in one's sense of mastery, since they have appeared to be causally reciprocal in their strong inverse correlation with each other as part of the general sense of demoralization.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Chih-Yuan Weng



Proquest ID


OCLC Number




File Format


File Size

156 pages