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This study explores how aspects of the community environment might facilitate the stress-and-coping process – specifically, the protective effects of social integration and high quality neighborhoods on psychological well-being. Previous research suggests that low levels of financial stress, lower neighborhood stress, and social integration are each associated with greater levels of well-being; few studies, however, investigate these contextual variables in conjunction with one another. Data from the Notre Dame Study of Health and Well-Being were used to investigate whether (1) neighborhood stress moderates the relationship between financial stress and psychological well-being and (2) social integration mediates the relationship between neighborhood stress and psychological well-being. Although the results did not support the moderational hypothesis, post hoc analysis did indicate that neighborhood stress mediates the financial stress [to] psychological well-being relationship. Data supported hypothesis 2. From an ecological systems perspective, these results suggest that proximal contextual variables such as social integration and neighborhood stress can change the effect that less proximal contextual variables, such as economic conditions have on individuals’ psychological well-being.



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