Parent support is less effective in buffering cortisol stress reactivity for adolescents compared to children

Dev Sci. 2015 Mar;18(2):281-97. doi: 10.1111/desc.12195. Epub 2014 Jun 18.


The goal of the present study was to investigate developmental differences in the effectiveness of parent support to alleviate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis stress responses of children (ages 9-10, N = 40) and adolescents (ages 15-16, N = 41). We experimentally manipulated the provision of parent support during the speech preparation period before a modified Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and examined its effect on levels of salivary cortisol secreted in response to this laboratory stressor. Analyses revealed a significant interaction of condition and age group such that social support from the parent (versus a stranger) significantly eliminated the cortisol stress response in children, but had no effect on the response among adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*


  • Hydrocortisone