The biopsychosocial model of stress in adolescence: self-awareness of performance versus stress reactivity


Rith-Najarian, L. R., McLaughlin, K. A., Sheridan, M. A., & Nock, M. K. (2014). The biopsychosocial model of stress in adolescence: self-awareness of performance versus stress reactivity. Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands) , 17 (2), 193–203.

Date Published:



Extensive research among adults supports the biopsychosocial (BPS) model of challenge and threat, which describes relationships among stress appraisals, physiological stress reactivity, and performance; however, no previous studies have examined these relationships in adolescents. Perceptions of stressors as well as physiological reactivity to stress increase during adolescence, highlighting the importance of understanding the relationships among stress appraisals, physiological reactivity, and performance during this developmental period. In this study, 79 adolescent participants reported on stress appraisals before and after a Trier Social Stress Test in which they performed a speech task. Physiological stress reactivity was defined by changes in cardiac output and total peripheral resistance from a baseline rest period to the speech task, and performance on the speech was coded using an objective rating system. We observed in adolescents only two relationships found in past adult research on the BPS model variables: (1) pre-task stress appraisal predicted post-task stress appraisal and (2) performance predicted post-task stress appraisal. Physiological reactivity during the speech was unrelated to pre- and post-task stress appraisals and to performance. We conclude that the lack of association between post-task stress appraisal and physiological stress reactivity suggests that adolescents might have low self-awareness of physiological emotional arousal. Our findings further suggest that adolescent stress appraisals are based largely on their performance during stressful situations. Developmental implications of this potential lack of awareness of one's physiological and emotional state during adolescence are discussed.

Last updated on 09/12/2018