Term of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (restricted to Georgia Southern)


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Jeff Klibert

Committee Member 1

Lawrence Locker

Committee Member 2

Jackson Rainer


Theoretical models and empirical data suggest individuals at certain developmental stages may be particularly susceptible to unique interpersonal and social challenges, such as loneliness. Importantly, data suggest loneliness may function as a precursor to a variety of emotional distress outcomes (e.g., depression, social anxiety). At present, however, research exploring potential mediating effects within loneliness-emotional distress relationships is relatively nonexistent. The present study investigated the complex relationships between loneliness and facets of emotional distress through perceived stress and unconditional self-acceptance. Participants included 485 undergraduate students. Results identified perceived stress as a significant mediating variable in the loneliness-depression relationship. Conversely, unconditional self-acceptance was identified as a significant mediating variable in the loneliness-social anxiety relationship. Furthermore, results suggest that rural versus non-rural residents may be more susceptible to outcomes of social anxiety. A review and discussion of theoretical and practical considerations are offered.