Latino Early Adolescents' Psychological and Physiological Responses During the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

Katharine H. Zeiders, Rajni L. Nair, Lindsay T. Hoyt, Thaddeus W.W. Pace, Angela Cruze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Objectives: Research has documented increased psychological distress among adults during the 2016 U.S. presidential election; however, little is known about how major political events affect adolescents. Despite not actively participating in the election process (e.g., voting), adolescents generally, and Latino youth specifically, may experience a unique stress response during elections, particularly when perceived policy changes center on issues related to their own families' stability and well-being. Methods: We examined 42 Latino early adolescents (Mage = 12.50 years, SD = .88; 58% male; 94% immigrant background) living in Arizona and explored their psychological and physiological responses during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Adolescents self-reported their mood and behaviors for 5 consecutive days across election week (November 6-10, 2016): 2 days before the election, election day, and 2 days after the election. They also completed a saliva sampling protocol at waking and bedtime each day, to capture diurnal cortisol concentrations. Results: Multilevel growth models were utilized to examine intraindividual changes in positive affect, negative affect, and diurnal cortisol patterns across election week. Only 2 of the participants reported supporting the winning candidate. Changes in adolescents' stress hormone concentrations were evident; increases in evening cortisol levels and flatter diurnal cortisol slopes emerged across election week. Negative affect, positive affect, and morning cortisol concentrations did not change. Conclusions: This study provides preliminary evidence that macrolevel factors, such as the recent presidential election, may relate to adolescents' daily stress physiology. Further research is needed to better understand adolescents' responses to sociopolitical change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2019


  • Diurnal cortisol
  • Elections
  • Immigration
  • Latino adolescents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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