Adolescencija predstavlja ključnu razvojnu fazu u sazrijevanju osobe koja sa sobom nosi probleme u prilagodbi samih adolescenata, poput internaliziranih i eksternaliziranih problema te teškoća s akademskim postignućem. Jedan od čimbenika razvoja problema u prilagodbi je doživljaj ekonomskih teškoća. Konstrukt doživljaja ekonomskih teškoća do sada je u najvećoj mjeri istraživan u okviru Modela obiteljskog stresa koji je predstavljao teorijsku osnovu i za ovaj rad. Iako razvojna znanost zaključuje da određene individualne karakteristike osobe mogu umanjiti negativne ishode usprkos različitim teškoćama koje osoba doživljava, neistražena je uloga individualnih čimbenika u prilagodbi adolescenata koji doživljavaju ekonomske teškoće u kontekstu posljednje ekonomske krize (2008. - 2014. godine). Stoga je cilj ovoga istraživanja bio kroz longitudinalni nacrt istražiti ulogu individualnih karakteristika spola, inteligencije i osobina ličnosti adolescenata u predviđanju promjena u psihosocijalnoj prilagodbi tijekom srednje adolescencije na temelju doživljaja ekonomskih teškoća. Istraživanje je provedeno kroz tri vala korištenjem upitnika samoprocjene s 1402 adolescenta praćena od prvog do trećeg razreda srednje škole. Za potrebe ovog istraživanja prevedeni su i validirani postojeći strani te konstruirani novi mjerni instrumenti. Postavljene hipoteze provjeravane su korištenjem longitudinalnog strukturalnog modeliranja kroz autoregresijske križne modele. Rezultati su pokazali da djevojke, za razliku od mladića, doživljavaju porast internaliziranih problema u točki 2 uslijed doživljenih ekonomskih teškoća u točki 1, dok je porast internaliziranih problema u točki 3 uslijed doživljenih ekonomskih teškoća u točki 2 značajan za obje skupine. Razlike po spolu nisu dobivene za predviđanje promjena eksternaliziranih problema i školskog uspjeha. Viša inteligencija je zaštitni čimbenik za mlade koji doživljavaju ekonomske teškoće za eksternalizirane probleme, ali nije značajan zaštitni čimbenik za internalizirane probleme i školski uspjeh. Mladi koji imaju viši neuroticizam doživljavaju porast internaliziranih problema uslijed doživljenih ekonomskih teškoća, dok ekstraverzija i savjesnost nisu značajni moderatori u predviđanju promjena u prilagodbi adolescenata. Provedeno istraživanje teorijski je obogatilo područje istraživanja doživljaja ekonomskih teškoća i prilagodbe adolescenata, otvorilo nova pitanja za buduća istraživanja, a njegove implikacije mogu biti značajne za praktični rad s adolescentima.
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Introduction: Adolescence is a key developmental stage in the maturation of a person which can bring problems in the adolescents’ adjustment. Therefore, it is important to study the potential factors that shape outcomes in adolescence such as internalizing and externalizing problems and school success. One of the significant determinants that has been studied in this field is perceived financial difficulties. It is a construct that refers to the individual’s psychological experience that a family is facing significant financial difficulties that cause stress within the family context. There are several theoretical frameworks in this field, with the most prominent being the Bioecological model of human development and the Family stress model, which both in the unique way link economic hardship and family stress, looking at how they affect parents’emotional difficulties and jeopardize adolescents’ healthy development. Within those frameworks different factors have been examined for their potential contribution in the explanation of the relation between economic hardship and adolescents' adjustment, including various parent variables, relationship characteristics and environmental or social context factors, but individual adolescents' factors have been neglected. Research in other areas has shown that gender, intelligence and personality traits may shape outcomes in individual's life, serving as protective or risk factors. It is unknown what is their role in the relationship between the perceived financial difficulties and adjustment in adolescence. The aim of this study was to examine the role of adolescents’ individual characteristics - gender, intelligence and personality traits - in the prediction of change in adjustment due to the perceived financial difficulties during the period of middle adolescence. Methodology: The present PhD is part of a larger project entitled "Economic difficulties of the family, psychosocial problems and educational outcomes of adolescents in times of economic crisis", led by prof. Marina Ajduković, PhD, funded by the Croatian Science Foundation. To respond to the research hypotheses, a three-wave longitudinal study was conducted with a time interval of one year: the first wave from February to May 2016, the second wave from February to May 2017 and the third wave from February to May 2018. Data were collected in 29 secondary schools from six counties in central Croatia with 1,402 students. Twenthy-three field researchers were trained to conduct the research, in compliance with all ethical principles of conducting research with minors. Results: The results showed that girls experienced higher level of internalizing problems in T2 due to higer perceived financial difficulties in T1 than boys, but both groups experienced increase of internalizing problems in T3 due to higer perceived financial difficulties in T2. Girls and boys did not differ in the prediction of change in externalizing problems and school success in T2 and T3 due to perceived financial difficulties in T1. Furthermore, it was found that young people who achieved above-average results on the intelligence test experienced lower increase in commited misdemeanors and minor delinquent acts in T2 due to perceived financial difficulties in T1, while there was no significant relation with change in committing misdemeanor and minor delinquent acts due to perceived financial difficulties for young people who achieved below-average and average results on the intelligence test. Higher intelligence is therefore a protective factor for young people experiencing financial difficulties in this dimension of externalizing problems, but it is not a significant protective factor for internalizing problems or school success. In addition, the findings show that young people with higher neuroticism experienced increase in internalizing problems in T2 due to perceived financial difficulties in T1. Contrary to expectations, extraversion and conscientiousness did not prove to be significant moderators of prediction of change in this relation, nor in the prediction of change in externalizing problems and school success due to perceived financial difficulties. Conclusion: In all, the results of this PhD demonstrate limited role of individual factors in the prediction of change in adjustment due to perceived financial difficulties during the middle adolescence. The obtained results indicate the theoretical contribution of research and the possibility of expanding the Family Stress Model in future research with adolescents’ perceived financial difficulties and individual factors in predicting the change in their adjustment. Methodological contributions of this study include improvements in the operationalization of the construct of perceived financial difficulties in the period of middle to late adolescence, and the implementation of longitudinal data collection and analysis. The practical contributions of the research relate to preventive and intervention work with adolescents which can include their experience of financial difficulties, and possible risk and protective factors that can mitigate or prevent negative outcomes during this important formative period.