Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 1384–1393 | Cite as

Associations between Stress, Psychosomatic Complaints, and Parental Criticism among Affluent Adolescent Girls

  • Kimberly Williams
  • Terese Jean Lund
  • Belle Liang
  • Angela DeSilva Mousseau
  • Rénee Spencer
Original Paper


A growing body of research has shown that adolescent girls in the context of affluence face a series of unique pressures that may increase social-emotional problems. Little research, however, has examined associations between perceived stress and psychosomatic complaints among privileged youth. In the present study, we investigated the relationships between stress, psychosomatic complaints, and parental criticism in a sample of preadolescent and adolescent girls (n = 218) from selective, private schools. Using OLS regression analyses, cross-sectional and longitudinal associations were evident between perceived stress and psychosomatic complaints, with increases in stress associated with increases in psychosomatic problems. Parental criticism was also examined as a predictor of girls’ psychosomatic complaints and stress levels. Results indicated that parental criticism was significantly and positively associated with psychosomatic problems in cross-sectional models and that perceived stress levels mediated this association. Additional analyses demonstrated that the relationship between psychosomatic complaints and stress may be bidirectional. Taken together, results from this exploratory study suggest that girls in the context of affluence may also experience psychosomatic complaints, in addition to social-emotional problems.


Affluence Adolescence Stress Parenting Psychosomatic complaints 


Author Contributions

K.W. assisted with the data analyses and wrote the paper. T.J.L. collaborated with the design and execution of the 21st Century Athenas study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the paper. B.L. PI of the 21st Century Athenas study and collaborated with the writing and editing of the final manuscript. A.D.M. collaborated with the design and execution of the 21st Century Athenas study and collaborated with the writing and editing of the final manuscript. R.S. Co-PI of the 21st Century Athenas study and collaborated with the writing and editing of the final manuscript.


This study was conducted with the support and cooperation of Laurel School’s Center for Research on Girls. This study was also supported through Wingate University’s Summer Research Grant Program.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human subjects were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institution or practice at which the studies were conducted.

Informed Consent

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


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimberly Williams
    • 1
  • Terese Jean Lund
    • 1
  • Belle Liang
    • 2
  • Angela DeSilva Mousseau
    • 3
  • Rénee Spencer
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWingate UniversityWingateUSA
  2. 2.Department of Counseling and Developmental PsychologyBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA
  3. 3.Department of EducationRivier UniversityNashuaUSA
  4. 4.School of Social WorkBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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