The Complexity of Stress in Mid-Adolescent Girls and Boys
Number of Authors: 6
2015 (English)In: Child Indicators Research, ISSN 1874-897X, E-ISSN 1874-8988, Vol. 8, no 2, 403-423 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
In many Western countries adolescents, especially girls, report high levels of stress and stress-related health complaints. In this study we investigate the concept of stress in a group of 14-15 year-olds (grade 8 in two Stockholm schools) using a multiple methods approach. The aim is to analyse stress, and gender differences in stress, as indicated by a measure of perceived stress (questionnaires, n = 212), the diurnal variation in the biomarker cortisol (saliva samples, n = 108) and the students' own accounts of stress (semi-structured interviews, n = 49). The results were generated within the traditional framework of each method and integrated at the point of interpretation. The hypothesis that adolescent girls experience more stress than boys was confirmed by all methods used. In the questionnaire, the most commonly experienced aspects of perceived stress were the same among girls and boys, but girls consistently reported higher frequencies. The saliva samples showed that girls had greater cortisol output in the morning. In the individual semi-structured interviews, girls and boys discussed stress in similar ways but both acknowledged a gender gap to the disadvantage of girls. The results as a whole suggests an interpretation of gender differences that focuses girls' attitudes, perceived expectations and coping strategies in relation to school performance, with their focus on achievement, marks, hard work, and worries about the future. The findings point to a need of an increased awareness about the role of perceived expectations in the stress process, and that these expectations and their impact on stress may differ by the gender of the student.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 8, no 2, 403-423 p.
Mid-adolescence, Gender, Stress, Cortisol, Multiple methods, Data collection
Health Sciences Psychology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-118346DOI: 10.1007/s12187-014-9245-7ISI: 000354444700009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-118346DiVA: diva2:822758