School-related stressors in adolescents from 21 countries: What is universal?

Inge Seiffge-Krenke


School stress is one of the most important stressors in adolescents around the world. This study tested the impact of region, age, gender, family structure, and school achievement on adolescents’ stress perception. In a cross-sectional design, 12.172 adolescents from 21 countries participated in the study. Adolescents from Central European and North American countries had generally quite low levels of school stress. Adolescents from Southern Europe exhibited the highest stress levels, but also adolescents from Latin America, the Middle East and Asian countries reported quite high levels of school-related stress. Rank 1 in many countries was the pressure to get the best marks. Additionally, the fear that differences in opinion with the teacher may result in bad marks and that the leaning material is too difficult or too boring were also important stressors, whereas rivalries among pupils seemed not to be a major problem. Adolescents from single-parent families experienced higher school-related stress than adolescents from two-parent families. The findings were discussed with respect to overall globalization and future insecurities, leading to universal stressors of adolescents in different parts of the world.


school stress, stress perception, gender effects, cross-cultural comparison

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