Emerging Adults’ Psychological Symptom Profiles: Differential Associations with Peer Victimization and Gender Typicality

Lauren Henry


Evidence is mixed regarding the trajectory of emerging adults’ psychological profiles. While most research has shown an upward trend in psychological health, other research suggests that some emerging adults experience serious mental health problems. Ambiguity surrounding the research could be tied, at least in part, to study methods. I sought to examine the variability in emerging adults’ psychological health through latent profile analysis, a statistical procedure that organizes individuals into relatively homogenous subgroups based on their responses to a set of continuous measures. Participants were 98 undergraduates (M age = 19) recruited from a private, liberal arts university in the southeastern United States. Participants completed self-report measures of psychological symptoms, peer victimization, and gender typicality. Results revealed two distinct classes of individuals: a low-symptom class and a higher-symptom class. As compared to the low-symptom class, the higher-symptom class experienced higher levels of victimization and lower levels of gender typicality. These results provide evidence for variation in the psychological profiles of emerging adults and suggest that emerging adults with higher levels of psychological symptomatology are at risk for other forms of psychological maladjustment. Furthermore, they underscore the importance in identifying and administering resources to emerging adults who are at risk of higher-symptom group membership and accordingly the impediment of possibly failing to develop a strong sense of self.