Predictors of Stress Generation in Adolescents in Mainland China

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Abstract. The current longitudinal study examined whether the personality vulnerabilities of self-criticism and dependency prospectively predicted stress generation in Chinese adolescents. Participants included 1,116 adolescents (588 girls and 528 boys), aged 15 to 18 years from rural, urban and ultra-urban mainland China. Participants completed self-report measures of personality, depressive and anxious symptoms and participated in a clinical interview assessing lifetime history of depression. The occurrence of negative life events was measured using a contextual-threat interview every 6-months for a total period of 18-months. Logistic regression analyses showed that after controlling for past depressive episodes and current depressive and anxious symptoms, self-criticism was prospectively associated with the occurrence of interpersonal stress generation, but not noninterpersonal stress generation. Dependency also predicted interpersonal stress generation, although only in girls and not boys. In line with previous Western findings, girls reported more interpersonal stress generation. Analyses across 3 levels of urbanization revealed several significant differences including higher reported interpersonal stress generation in urban girls than urban boys and overall higher levels of negative life events in ultra-urban youth. In sum, findings from the current study suggest that the stress generation process may be generalizable to Chinese youth.

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