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date: 30 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

A consistent focus of research has been on understanding how social relationships shape the activity of the biological stress response system. Progress has been made in characterizing these dynamics at the level of the individual, but significantly less is known about the role of social networks as a proximal ecology in which the stress response system is activated and contributes to human development. The focus of this chapter is on adolescence—a developmental period in which social relationships with peers represent both sources of social stress and opportunities for social buffering. It is proposed that considering peer social networks in which adolescents are embedded will augment understanding of the social context of psychosocial processes, including social status, rejection, isolation, bullying and victimization, and support, that are related to psychobiology of stress.

Keywords: peer networks, social stressors, social buffering, hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, cortisol, adolescence

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