Emma Adam Zeroes In on Teen Stress with Better Measures

Emma Adam Zeroes In on Teen Stress with Better Measures

Emma Adam research

Parents and teachers know that stress affects kids, but how does it become toxic? To zero in on exactly how daily and long-term stress affect children and teens, professor Emma Adam is developing comprehensive measures of adolescent stress.

“Most stress measures don’t quite capture all the different sources of stress in adolescents’ lives including poverty, discrimination and neighborhood stress, as well as family, peer and academic stressors,” says Adam.

The Cities Stress and Learning Project, supported by the National Institutes of Health, involves more than 300 Chicago middle and high school students. Adam is working with Kathryn Grant of DePaul University and health psychologist Edith Chen, using questionnaires, interviews, dairies and objective measures of sleep and stress biology.

For this project, Adam is especially interested in understanding links between teen stress and academic performance. She employs tools that are popular with her teen research participants — iPads and iPods — to compare cognitive functioning in the lab and at home. By tracing the pathways between stress and cognition, Adam also hopes to better understand racial and socioeconomic disparities in academic achievement.

Adam is a developmental psychologist with an interest in applying theory and research on human development to informing policies and programs aimed at improving the well-being of children, adolescents and young adults. She is an expert in the developmental psychobiology of stress and sleep.

Adam studies the contributions of work, school, family and individual factors to physiological stress in adolescents and young adults and the implications of stress for child and adolescent behavioral, cognitive and emotional development. She also examines social influences on sleep in children and adolescents, and the implications of variations in sleep timing and quality for health and performance.

By Adapted from an Institute for Policy Research article
Last Modified: 10/16/13