Carolyn Sackett

Does a discrepancy in friendliness rankings within dyads affect the ability of friends to act as a buffer during the TSST-OL?

The Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and its sub-variations are a valid protocol for eliciting a physiological stress response. In previous research, results have shown that children’s cortisol response to the TSST can be buffered by the presence of a caregiver. However, as adolescents go through puberty, parents stop acting as a buffer for cortisol reactivity. The purpose of this project was to examine if adolescent friends who complete the TSST online (TSST-OL) together buffer one another’s cortisol stress response. Additionally, the project also examined whether or not the quality of the friendship affected the level of buffering. Data used was from 34 dyads aged 11-15 within the currently ongoing Share the Load Study, as well as a behavioral coding manual designed to rate friendliness within the dyads during the preparation period of the TSST-OL. Findings show that when both participants in the dyad complete the TSST-OL, cortisol response to the TSST occurs only 44.4-50% of the time, indicating that stress buffering is present. However, the level of friendship does not have a statistically significant impact on cortisol response.