Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Carol Dell'Oliver

Second Advisor

Robert Buckler

Third Advisor

Chris Koch


This study was designed to examine factors associated with academic success among graduate students i n clinical psychology. Success was defined as higher GPA's, higher scores on the G R E (total, verbal and quantitative) and the acquisition of a "special commendation" from psychology faculty members. After a careful review of the literature, it was hypothesized that graduate students in clinical psychology who were more successful would be likely to have lower resting heart rates and lower blood pressure, and to report less stress, less distress, higher levels of social support , use of more " positive" and fewer " negative" coping strategies, higher levels of satisfaction with life, more positive and less negative affect, and greater spiritual wellbeing. Participants were students from the current student roster of a Graduate School of Clinical Psychology in the Pacific Northwest. Each subject completed a packet including a demographics/stress inventory, the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), the Multi-Dimensional Support Scale (MOSS), a coping scale (COPE) , the Satisfaction With Life (SWL) Scale, brief Negative affectivity (NEM) and Positive affectivity (PEM) scales from the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire, and the Spiritual Well-Being (SWB) Scale. In general ,the hypothesis was supported by the results of this study. More successful students were likely to report: a) lower blood pressure and heart rate at time of testing, b) less stress regarding spirituality and relationships with friends, c) less overall distress, d) fewer somatic symptoms, e) higher levels of social support from family, close friends and peers, f) increased use of religion, restraint, suppression of competing activities, positive reinterpretation and growth, seeking of emotional social support and active coping, g) decreased use of denial, alcohol or d rugs, and mental disengagement, and h) greater religious wellbeing. Three findings, however, did not support the hypothesis. First, more successful graduate students were likely to report increased use of the coping style Focus on and Venting of Emotion. Second, these students were also more likely to report increased levels of stress regarding scholastic coursework and dissertation work. Finally, students with higher levels of success were likely to report a greater number of surgeries over their lifetime and illnesses or trips to the doctor over the past two years.

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Psychology Commons