Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



One factor associated with a person’s adjustment during important life transitions is self-concept clarity (SCC)—“the extent to which the contents of an individual's self-concept (e.g., perceived personal attributes) are clearly and confidently defined…”. However, it is not fully understood why and for whom SCC predicts adjustment. Recent work suggests that SCC may function as a resource for regulatory functions, allowing one to focus on long-term self-relevant goals rather than narrowly focusing on regulating immediate discomfort associated with uncertainty. It is possible that having high SCC facilitates emotion regulation in such a way that it allows one to engage and further process self-relevant information (i.e., acceptance, positive reappraisal) whereas low SCC hinders adjustment through emotion regulation strategies that interfere with processing of self-relevant information via disengagement (i.e., distraction, minimizing, suppression) or over-engagement strategies (i.e., rumination, focus on consequences, worry). This investigation uses daily diary and experience sampling methods to test whether emotion regulation strategies partially mediate the link between SCC and adjustment and explores the role of first-generation college student membership (i.e., first in their family to attend college). I investigated both general SCC and SCC that is specific to the socioeconomic status self-concept (SES-SCC) given the growing interest in applying of psychological frameworks to understand the impact of socioeconomic status and in socioeconomic status as an important part of people’s identity. Findings indicate that SCC is differentially associated with emotion regulation. Specifically, at both the between- and within-person levels, SCC is associated with lower disengagement and lower over-engagement strategies. SCC is not consistently associated with engagement strategies. Over-engagement partially mediates the association between SCC and adjustment such that SCC predicts greater adjustment via lower over-engagement, at both the within- and between-person levels, controlling for disengagement and engagement strategy types. This research builds on prior work by replicating findings in a growing literature that investigates self and emotion processes—linking SCC and emotion regulation to better understand the implications for adjustment among different people and intensively across time. A better understanding of students’ self-concepts and regulation in daily life, as well as their implications for adjustment can create opportunities for additional pathways for support via improved communication and culturally responsive programming.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Tammy English

Committee Members

Timothy Bono, Rebecca Covarrubias, Michael J. Strube, Renee Thompson,