The Consequences of Friend-Related Stress Across Early Adolescence

Aprile D. Benner, Yang Hou, Kristina M. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The current study investigated early adolescents’ experiences of friend-related stress across middle school and its developmental consequences following the transition to high school. Using a sample of approximately 1,000 middle school students, four unique friend-related stress trajectories were observed across middle school: consistently low friend-related stress (57% of the sample), consistently high friend-related stress (7%), moderate and increasing friend-related stress (22%), and moderate but decreasing friend-related stress (14%). Groups characterized by higher levels of friend-related stress across middle school were linked to subsequent poorer socioemotional well-being, lower academic engagement, and greater involvement in and expectancies around risky behaviors following the transition to high school. Increased friend-related stress across the high school transition was also linked to poorer outcomes, even after taking into account earlier stress trajectories. Gender differences highlighted the particular struggles girls experience both in friend stress and in the links between friend stress and subsequent well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-272
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The authors acknowledge the support of grants from the William T. Grant Foundation to Aprile D. Benner, from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to Kristina Jackson (R01AA016797 and K02AA13938), and from Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin (P2CHD042849).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • alcohol use
  • engagement
  • friend stress
  • school transitions
  • socioemotional well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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