Stress, Social Support, and Adjustment of Adolescents in Middle School

Melodie Wenz-Gross, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Gary N. Siperstein, University of Massachusetts Boston
Andrew S. Untch, University of Massachusetts Boston
Keith F. Widaman, University of California, Riverside

At the time of publication, Melodie Wenz-Gross was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


Examined in this study were middle school stress, social supports, and adjustment of 482 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade adolescents. Multiple regression analyses were used to relate differing types of stress and social support to students' self-concept, feelings of depression, and liking of school. The effects of adolescent characteristics (gender, grade level, grade point average, and education placement status) also were assessed. Results showed that higher academic stress and less emotional support from the family were related to lower academic self-concept, and higher peer stress and less companionship support from peers were associated with lower social self-concept. Emotional support from the family moderated the influence of peer stress on feelings of depression. Problem-solving support from adults outside the family moderated the effects of teacher/rules stress on adolescents' liking of school. The importance of identifying the linkages between types of stress, social support, and adjustment, using a developmental perspective, is discussed.