Undergraduate Research

Article Title

The Relationship Between Coping Mechanisms and the Scarcity Mindset


Young adults in America are struggling with increasing instances of scarcity compared to previous generations. Scarcity, which ranges from external experiences of financial insecurity, a lack of time, or social isolation, can become an internalized mindset that inhibits cognitive functioning and effective coping. With the onset of COVID-19, preexisting stressors and challenges have been compounded upon, forcing many young adults to find new strategies to cope. To examine the urgent and emerging topic of scarcity and coping, varying coping strategies and its correlation with perceptions and experiences of scarcity were explored. College aged young adults were surveyed using the Brief COPE and the newly created measure: The Tri-Scarcity Survey. Correlational and regression analyses showed that experiencing scarcity was associated with pessimism and maladaptive forms of coping. Additionally, there was evidence for social support as a potential moderating factor for the consequences of scarcity. Finding effective ways to cope is crucial, however, scarcity’s depletion of resources not only acts synergistic with the cycle of scarcity but may prevent adaptive coping altogether.