Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 1207–1219 | Cite as

Predictors of Stress Generation in Adolescents in Mainland China

  • Claire J. StarrsEmail author
  • John R. Z. Abela
  • David C. Zuroff
  • Rhonda Amsel
  • Josephine H. Shih
  • Shuqiao Yao
  • Xiong Zhao Zhu
  • Wei Hong


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.


Stress generation Adolescents Self-criticism Dependency Vulnerability 



The research in this article was supported by a research grant from the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada awarded to John R.Z. Abela.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire J. Starrs
    • 1
    Email author
  • John R. Z. Abela
    • 2
  • David C. Zuroff
    • 3
  • Rhonda Amsel
    • 3
  • Josephine H. Shih
    • 4
  • Shuqiao Yao
    • 5
  • Xiong Zhao Zhu
    • 5
  • Wei Hong
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, McGill University at the Jewish General HospitalInstitute of Community and Family PsychiatryMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyRutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Department of PsychologySaint Joseph’s UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Psychological InstituteSecond Xiangya Medical College of Central South UniversityChangshaPeople’s Republic of China
  6. 6.Department of Medical PsychologyPeking University Health Science CentreBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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