This study examined recent stress exposure and effortful coping effects on salivary cortisol (sC) response patterns in preadolescent boys and girls (N = 121, Mage = 10.60 years). Children were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and one of two randomly assigned, post-TSST coping conditions: distraction and avoidance. Piecewise growth multilevel modeling did not link children's recent stressful life events or hair cortisol (hC) levels to sC reactivity, though each interacted with coping condition to predict sC recovery patterns. Children with elevated life stressor and hC levels demonstrated protracted sC recovery when primed with distraction, yet more efficient sC recovery when primed with avoidance. Findings challenge assumptions about universally “good” and “bad” coping by highlighting contexts where each succeed and fail in helping children manage acute stress physiology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology
- Behavioral Neuroscience