COMPETENCE AND STRESS IN SCHOOL CHILDREN: THE MODERATING EFFECTS OF INDIVIDUAL AND FAMILY QUALITIES

Ann S. Masten, Norman Garmezy, Auke Tellegen, David S. Pellegrini, Kevin Larkin, Andrea Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

320 Scopus citations

Abstract

Abstract This study examined the associations of stress exposure to various aspects of school‐based competence in a normative sample of 205 children aged 8–13. Potential moderators of these relations, including child attributes of sex and IQ, and environmental attributes of socioeconomic status (SES) and family qualities, were also studied. Stress exposure was indexed by a life event questionnaire. Competence was assessed by teacher ratings, peer assessments and school record data. Family attributes were derived from a set of rating scales completed by interviewers after 6 hours of interviews with a parent. Results suggest that the relations of stress exposure to competence vary as a function of individual differences as well as the competence criterion. Disadvantaged children, with lower IQ and SES, and less positive family qualities, were generally less competent and more likely to be disruptive at high stress levels. Advantaged children were more competent, and with stress were less positively engaged in school, but were not likely to be disruptive. Boys were less socially competent than girls and, when stress was high, appeared to be less protected by positive family qualities. Causal hypotheses for future research in this area are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-764
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume29
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1988

Keywords

  • Competence
  • resilience
  • school‐age children
  • stress

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