Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 814–821 | Cite as

Factors in the Perceived Stress Scale Differentially Associate with Mindfulness Disposition and Executive Function among Early Adolescents

  • Afton KechterEmail author
  • David S. Black
  • Nathaniel R. Riggs
  • Christopher M. Warren
  • Anamara Ritt-Olson
  • Chih-Ping Chou
  • Mary Ann Pentz
Original Paper



The first aim was to test the factor structure and item-loadings of the 10-item Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) when administered to early adolescents. The second aim was to examine associations between PSS factors, mindfulness disposition, and executive function.


We analyzed data collected from 331 students in grade seven (M age = 12.4, 48.9% female, 47.1% White, 26.0% Hispanic, 37.8% received free-lunch) classrooms from two ethnically/racially and socio-economically diverse schools. Participants completed paper and pencil self-report measures of stress (PSS), mindfulness disposition (Mindful Awareness Attention Scale, MAAS), and executive function (Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, BRIEF). We tested the statistical association between two factors of the PSS: perceived coping and perceived distress with MAAS and BRIEF.


A two-factor model of the PSS, inclusive of perceived coping and perceived distress, fit the data better than a one-dimensional model. MAAS and BRIEF scores were inversely associated with PSS distress scores (β = −0.62, p < 0.0001 and β = −0.66, p< 0.0001, respectively), but not PSS coping scores (β = −0.04, p = 0.21 and β = −0.02, p = 0.57, respectively) in a model adjusted for sex, race, and socio-economic status.


Two factors in the PSS emerged among early adolescents and differentially associated with mindfulness disposition and executive function to similar magnitudes. Findings encourage future assessment of perceived stress in a more refined manner across developmental stages in order to examine trajectories of perceived distress versus perceived coping in relation to mindfulness disposition and executive function.


Distress Coping Mindfulness disposition Executive function Adolescent 



Special thanks to Adam M. Leventhal for his constructive feedback on the path model conceptualization and development. The present study was funded by two National Institutes of Health grants to M.A.P (R01-HD052107-0182 and T32-CA009492-34 [A.K.]).

Author Contributions

A.K.: designed and executed study analyses; wrote and revised manuscript. D.S.B.: collaborated in manuscript development and revision. N.R.R.: collaborated in writing and editing the manuscript. C.M.W.: collaborated in manuscript development and revision. A.R.O.: collaborated in reviewing the manuscript. C.P.C.: collaborated in statistical analyses development and interpretation. M.A.P.: designed the study, collaborated in path model development, and reviewed manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All authors complied with ethical standards in the treatment of participants. Authors have full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review upon request. This research was approved by the University of Southern California institutional review board. The submission has not been previously published and is not being considered anywhere else for publication. All authors approved the manuscript and report no competing interests related to the submission of this manuscript.

Informed Consent

Student participants were required to provide written or verbal assent and their parents were required to provide written or verbal consent.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of MedicineUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family Studies, College of Health and Human SciencesColorado State UniversityFort Collins, COUSA

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