This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Associations Among Anxiety, Disengaged Coping, and Physiological Arousal in Early Adolescents




Blackwell, Abigail Jones

Type of Degree



Human Development and Family Studies


This study examined associations among physiological responses to peer stress (heart rate reactivity, HRR, and skin conductance level reactivity, SCLR), coping responses to peer stress (engaged and disengaged), and anxiety during preadolescence (N = 123). Physiological and real-time coping responses were assessed during lab simulations of peer stress situations (peer evaluation and peer rebuff) before the transition to middle school (Time 1; T1). Preadolescents also completed questionnaires about coping strategies at T1. Preadolescents and parents completed questionnaires about preadolescents’ anxiety after the transition to middle school (Time 2; T2). Regression analyses revealed higher HRR was concurrently associated with higher levels of engaged coping responses to peer stress. SCLR was generally not associated with coping strategies. Path analyses indicated HRR was associated with higher real-time, engaged coping responses to peer stress experiences which, in turn, predicted lower levels of preadolescent- and parent-reported anxiety across the transition to middle school.