Reciprocal influences between stressful life events and adolescent internalizing and externalizing problems

Child Development
Kee Jeong KimF O Lorenz


Investigated in this study were hypothesized reciprocal influences between stressful life events and adolescent maladjustment using data from a 6-year, prospective longitudinal study. Stressful life experiences, internalizing symptoms, and externalizing behaviors were assessed for a sample of adolescents (215 males, 236 females) living in the rural Midwest. From 7th to 12th grades, autoregressive analyses showed that stressful life events and these two forms of maladjustment were reciprocally interrelated over time. For example, stressful life events at one point significantly predicted delinquent behaviors 1 year later, which, in turn, significantly predicted stressful life events 1 year later, and vice versa. The findings provide evidence for the accumulating disadvantage for adolescents that results from the mutual reinforcement of problematic situations and adjustment problems over time.


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