Address for correspondence: Dr. Tamara Thomsen, Department of Psychology, University of Hildesheim, Universitätsplatz 1, 31141 Hildesheim, Germany. Tel.: +49 5121 883 10952; E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: One way to avert negative influences on well-being when confronted with blocked goals is the flexible adjustment of one’s goals to the given situation. This study examines developmental differences in flexible goal adjustment (FGA) regarding age and gender in a sample of N = 815 participants (10 to 20 years; M = 13.63, SD = 2.60, 48.5% male). Moreover, it is investigated if FGA consists of specific cognitive coping and emotion regulation strategies and if some are more indicative than others at different developmental stages. Results showed no age differences in FGA, but in the strategies positive reappraisal, coping humor, acceptance, and optimistic thinking. These strategies were also most indicative for FGA. Optimistic thinking was more indicative in younger adolescents, while reappraisal and coping humor were more indicative in older adolescents. Regarding gender differences, boys had higher scores in FGA and reappraisal than girls. Results highlight the necessity to consider the processes constituting FGA from a developmental perspective.