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Editorial: Adolescent storm and stress: a 21st century evaluation


Cover of Frontiers in Psychology journal.Adolescence, a period covering ~10–18 years of age, has long been characterized as a time of “storm and stress”. The characterization entered psychology from research on adolescent development done by Hall (1904). Although Hall’s view is now recognized as extreme, his characterization has influenced popular opinion, research, policy, and practice relevant to adolescents ever since, despite reasons to believe that such a characterization is not accurate or helpful. Arnett (1999) described three primary domains of a storm and stress characterization: risk behavior, mood disruption, and parent-child conflict, arguing that negative (i.e., undesirable, unsafe, challenging) behavior in each domain during adolescence poses challenges for youth and the adults around them.

In this Research Topic, we solicited scholarly analysis evaluating the premises and the impact of the “storm and stress” characterization. We aimed, through these analyses, to articulate a conceptualization of adolescents in the 21st century that adequately considers the diversity of developmental experience that currently exists. To promote this aim, we examine the articles in this Research Topic with respect to the premises and impact of a “storm and stress” characterization. We organize our analysis around three relevant themes: (a) the typicality of negative and positive behaviors during adolescence; (b) predictors of “typical” adolescent behavior; and (c) the impact of storm and stress characterizations on adolescents. We conclude by articulating a characterization of adolescence for the 21st Century that is more consistent with the data than is a “storm and stress” characterization. Although bolstered by the findings reported in this Research Topic, our suggested characterization is not altogether new, so we also reflect on what is needed to establish this more accurate characterization of adolescents among scholars, professionals who work with adolescence, and the public.


  • Christy M. Buchanan
  • Daniel Romer
  • Laura Wray-Lake
  • Sheretta T. Butler-Barnes