Adolescent stress and coping: A longitudinal study



The purpose of this longitudinal panel study was to investigate developmental and gender influences on stress and coping in adolescents attending a suburban high school in Tennessee. Data were collected from the same 167 subjects during the freshman year and again during the senior year. Life events stress was measured through the Adolescent Life Change Event Scale (ALCES) and ways of coping were categorized from data gathered from an open-ended questionnaire. Girls reported more life events stress at both testings than boys. Life events stress was greater at senior testing for both girls and boys, but girls' scores increased more. The “gender intensification” phenomenon may account for the greater disparity in types of stress reported by boys and girls as seniors. Girls generally reported more life events associated with interpersonal and family relationships. Both girls and boys reported coping with stress mostly through active distraction techniques such as exercise. However, girls' use of active distraction decreased over time, while passive distraction increased. Self-destructive and aggressive coping behaviors increased for boys. There were no relationships between amounts or types of life events stress and ways of coping for subjects at either time.