Stress, Coping, and Relationships in Adolescence

Stress, Coping, and Relationships in Adolescence

Stress, Coping, and Relationships in Adolescence

Stress, Coping, and Relationships in Adolescence


Unique and comprehensive, this volume integrates the most updated theory and research relating to adolescent coping and its determinants. This book is the result of the author's long interest in, and study of, stress, coping, and relationships in adolescence. It begins with an overview of research conducted during the past three decades and contrasts research trends in adolescent coping in the United States and Europe over time. Grounded on a developmental model for adolescent coping, the conceptual issues and major questions are outlined. Supporting research ties together the types of stressors, the ways of coping with normative and non-normative stressors, and the function that close relationships fulfill in this context.

More than 3,000 adolescents from different countries participated in seven studies that are built programmatically on one another and focus on properties that make events stressful, on coping processes and coping styles, on internal and social resources, and on stress-buffering and adaptation. A variety of assessment procedures for measuring stress and coping are presented, including semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, and content analysis. This multimethod-multivariate approach is characterized by assessing the same construct via different methods, replicating the measures in different studies including cross-cultural samples, using several informants, and combining standardized instruments with very open data gathering.

The results offer a rich picture of the nature of stressors requiring adolescent coping and highlight the importance of relationship stressors. Age and gender differences in stress appraisal and coping style are also presented. Mid-adolescence emerges as a turning point in the use of certain coping strategies and social resources. Strong gender differences in stress appraisal and coping style suggest that females are more at risk for developing psychopathology. The book demonstrates how adolescents make use of assistance provided by social support systems and points to the changing influence of parents and peers. It addresses controversial issues such as benefits and costs of close relationships or the beneficial or maladaptive effects of avoidant coping. Its clear style, innovative ideas, and instruments make it an excellent textbook for both introductory and advanced courses. Without question, it may serve as a guide for future research in this field.

This book will be of value to researchers, practitioners, and students in various fields such as child clinical and developmental psychology and psychopathology.


The passing from childhood to adolescence and from adolescence to adulthood have both been considered developmental transitions (Cornell & Furman, 1984). According to Antonovsky (1981), individuals tend to become more vulnerable during periods of biological, social, and psychological transition. In this book, developmental aspects of dealing with normative stressors are investigated. Of special relevance is the manner of coping with these demands and the functions that close relationships may fulfill in this context. Current research on adolescent development differs from earlier research in important aspects. First, the quantity has dramatically increased, as evidenced by increased numbers of journal articles, new journals, and edited volumes on adolescence accompanied by the foundation of new professional societies and an increasing number of researchers concerning themselves with this area (Petersen, 1988). Second, important changes in adolescent theory and research are obvious. There has been a shift from stage-oriented approaches, which focus on the aspect of turmoil, to process-oriented approaches, which stress the ability of the adolescents to function well (Keating, 1987). Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies on large representative samples are becoming more common. Development in many areas is now conceptualized as involving continuous, progressive changes rather than a transformation from one stage to another. The rosy picture of increasingly positive development over adolescence even seems to be true when we analyze adolescents living under divergent economic, political, and social conditions. Although it is hard to objectively compare the stress adolescents had in previous generations, the data of Offer and his coworkers (see e.g., Offer, Ostrov, & Howard, 1989) do not indicate that the 1980s were more stressful for teenagers than were previous decades. Fend (1988), in comparing representative surveys in West Germany . . .

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