Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Social Stress

  • Vanessa JuthEmail author
  • Sally Dickerson
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_283-2


Definition and Description

Social stress can be broadly defined as a perceived threat that is based on one’s relation to or association with another person or group of people. There is great variability in the types of social stress that one may experience. It can arise from interpersonal interactions, such as those with family members, friends, professional colleagues, and strangers; from evaluated performances, including giving a speech in front of an audience; from sharing an experience with someone, such as patients and caregivers dealing with a chronic illness; or from group, community, or societal dynamics, for instance, one’s socioeconomic or professional status within a community or society.

Different types of social stress can lead to a range of observable and measurable responses. For instance, socially evaluated performances may lead to negative emotions and self-conscious thoughts. Severe interpersonal social...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Dickerson, S. S., & Kemeny, M. E. (2004). Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 355–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Juth, V., Silver, R. C., & Sender, L. (2015a). The shared experience of adolescent and young adult cancer patients and their caregivers. Psycho-Oncology, 24, 1746–1753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Juth, V., Smyth, J. M., Carey, M., & Lepore, S. (2015b). Social constraints are associated with negative psychological and physical adjustment in bereavement. Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 7, 129–148.Google Scholar
  4. Miller, G., Chen, E., & Cole, S. W. (2009). Health psychology: Developing biologically plausible models linking the social world and physical health. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 501–524.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nursing ScienceUniversity of California IrvineIrvineUSA
  2. 2.Pace UniversityNew YorkUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mustafa al’Absi
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Minnesota Medical SchoolDuluthUSA