Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Experimental Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Rachel Severson

Commitee Members

Adrea Lawrence, Bryan Cochran, Kate McLean


Covid-19, identity, pandemic, emerging adults, well-being, political identity


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology | Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Psychology


The COVID-19 pandemic severely altered the lives of people across the world. Although the social isolation and disruption wrought by the pandemic have been universal experiences, emerging adults are at a pivotal moment and are potentially uniquely affected. Emerging adulthood is a critical time for identity development and the college setting fosters an environment for identity exploration. Studies show that in emerging adulthood, turning point events (e.g., global or national tragedies, personal challenges, transitions, or any form of upheaval, such as a pandemic) that are resolved positively are connected more closely with progress in identity formation, and the importance of positive resolution of negative events appears to be unique to emerging adults. This study explored how emerging adults in college (N = 231) were processing the COVID-19 pandemic and whether identity was a factor that affected an individual’s perception of the pandemic. The results of the present study support the hypotheses that an emerging adult’s identity does affect their pandemic processing, as does a person’s political identity, and self-reported mental health. The study revealed that pandemic processing was significantly related to students’ identity, mental well-being, and political beliefs. This study informs practitioners of education, families, and students themselves about how identity affects reactions to adversity and how turning negative experiences into positive experiences can have long-term benefits on a person’s sense of self well-being beyond emerging adulthood.



© Copyright 2022 Kaetlyn J. Cordingley