Overestimating Self-Blame for Stressful Life Events and Adolescents' Latent Trait Cortisol: The Moderating Role of Parental Warmth

J Youth Adolesc. 2020 Jan;49(1):283-298. doi: 10.1007/s10964-019-01112-0. Epub 2019 Aug 24.


Cognitive interpretations of stressful events impact their implications for physiological stress processes. However, whether such interpretations are related to trait cortisol-an indicator of individual differences in stress physiology-is unknown. In 112 early adolescent girls (M age = 12.39 years), this study examined the association between self-blame estimates for past year events and latent trait cortisol, and whether maternal warmth moderated effects. Overestimating self-blame (versus objective indices) for independent (uncontrollable) events was associated with lower latent trait cortisol, and maternal warmth moderated the effect of self-blame estimates on latent trait cortisol for each dependent (at least partially controllable) and interpersonal events. Implications for understanding the impact of cognitive and interpersonal factors on trait cortisol during early adolescence are discussed.

Keywords: Cognitive vulnerability; Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis; Maternal warmth; Stressful life events; Trait cortisol.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / physiology*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / metabolism
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / metabolism
  • Self Concept*
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*


  • Hydrocortisone