Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Stephanie Milan, Ph.D., Rhiannon Smith, Ph.D.

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Beginning in adolescence and continuing into adulthood, internalizing disorders have higher rates of prevalence in females. Cognitive and interpersonal theorists have described etiological factors in the development these symptoms, which may contribute to the symptom disparity across gender. Drawing on aspects of both models, repetitive conversations found in close female friendships have been proposed as a potential contributing factor to this gender disparity in internalizing arising in adolescence. Co-rumination, although associated with both depression and anxiety, does not fully consider anxiety-specific aspects of dyadic conversations, which may be important to understanding the differential developmental trajectory of the disorder. Co-worry, defined as repetitive, dyadic conversations about threat perception, inability to control worry, inability to cope in future scenarios, and anticipation of future negative events, was developed to assess for anxious patterns of communication in relationships. Using a late adolescence sample of college students, the present study sought to expand upon prior findings by examining the role of gender on the relationships between interpersonal conversations and internalizing disorders. Results suggested that both co-rumination and co-worry were associated with internalizing; however, differential patterns emerged by gender. Peer co-rumination was more frequently endorsed by females and associated with support and depth of peer relationships, whereas peer co-worry was more frequently endorsed by males and was not associated with higher quality friendships. For males, higher levels of co-worrying were associated with lower levels of depression and anxiety; the opposite pattern was found for female adolescents. These findings suggest that overlooked aspects of male friendships may be beneficial. Additionally, this study substantiates and expands upon findings that conversational tendencies within female friendships may pose inherent risk factors on mental health.

Major Advisor

Kimberli Treadwell, Ph.D.