Article title: Disadvantaged youth report less negative emotion to minor stressors when with peers: An experience sampling study
During adolescence, daily challenges emerge as a consequence of entering more complex social relationships and navigating increasingly autonomous roles. As a result of such changes, adolescents are at risk of increased exposure to minor, daily stressors. Researchers use the experience sampling method (ESM) to gather temporally accurate reports of the emotions, social contexts and stressors that adolescents experience in their day-to-day lives.
The findings of this study suggest that peers are influential in shaping adolescents’ emotional responses to stressors that occur across the day. Adolescents may be encouraged to seek out peers as an “emotional tonic” after exposure to stressors that occur as they go about their daily lives. Being among peers during times of stress may offer adolescents an open, supportive and rewarding space which may help dampen the emotional turbulence that adolescence can bring.
Previous Experience Sampling Method (ESM) studies demonstrate that adolescents’ daily emotional states are heavily influenced by their immediate social context. However, despite adolescence being a risk period for exposure to daily stressors, research has yet to examine the influence of peers on adolescents’ emotional responses to stressors encountered in their daily life. Adolescents (N = 108) from a low-SES school completed ESM reports of their social context, minor stressors and emotions, 5 times a day for 7 days. Based on previous findings that the peer context is experienced as positive and rewarding, we expected being with peers would be associated with lower post-stress negative emotions and higher happiness, compared to being with family or alone. As expected, being with peers after a stressor was associated with lower sadness, worry and jealousy compared to being alone, and lower sadness compared to being with family. Gender differences emerged for the influence of peers on sadness, worry, jealousy and happiness. These findings highlight the salient influence of peers on adolescents’ emotional reactivity to stressors as they occur in their natural environment. Findings are discussed in reference to peers as important emotion socialization agents during adolescence and in terms of theories of coping and emotion regulation.
Bep Norma Uink, Kathryn Lynn Modecki, and Bonnie L. Barber
Disadvantaged youth report less negative emotion to minor stressors when with peers: An experience sampling study
International Journal of Behavioral Development 0165025416626516, first published on February 10, 2016 doi:10.1177/0165025416626516