Below are resources we highly recommend for those interested in understanding more about the measurement of stress in epidemiological studies. 

Biomarker Network

The Stress Measurement Network has not focused heavily on biomarkers of stress because there is a separate funded network that addresses this. The NIA funded Biomarker Network is a group of scientists dedicated to improving the measurement of biological risk for late life health outcomes in large representative samples of populations. See their website and resources at  


Data Harmonization Project

The Gateway to Global Aging is a platform for population survey data on aging around the world. This site offers a digital library of survey questions, a search for finding comparable questions across surveys, and identically defined variables for cross-country analysis. To understand more about how to use this website, review this PDF iconGateway to Global Aging Data(short)_Jinkook's slides describing harmonization.pdf from Dr. Jinkook Lee. The Stress Measurement Network is partnering with Drs. Jinkook Lee & Tara Gruenewald to harmonize stress variables in the HRS family of studies.


Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Grand Rounds Speaker Series 

Presentation, September 27,2016

The Stress Measurement Network leadership presented to SOBC researchers during a grand rounds presentation on stress measurement and our response to Jerome Kagan’s recent (2016) article in Perspectives on Psychological Science. The conversation and corresponding slides were recorded and the presentation can be found here. 


Classic Papers on Stress

McEwen, B. (1998). Stress, adaptation, and disease: Allostasis and allostatic load. Annals of NY Academy of Sciences, 840, pp. 33-44. (doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1998.tb09546.x);

Abstract: Adaptation in the face of potentially stressful challenges involves activation of neural, neuroendocrine and neuroendocrine-immune mechanisms. This has been called “allostasis” or “stability through change” by Sterling and Eyer (Fisher S., Reason J. (eds): Handbook of Life Stress, Cognition and Health. J. Wiley Ltd. 1988, p. 631), and allostasis is an essential component of maintaining homeostasis. When these adaptive systems are turned on and turned off again efficiently and not too frequently, the body is able to cope effectively with challenges that it might not otherwise survive. However, there are a number of circumstances in which allostatic systems may either be overstimulated or not perform normally, and this condition has been termed “allostatic load” or the price of adaptation (McEwen and Stellar, Arch. Int. Med. 1993; 153:2093.). Allostatic load can lead to disease over long periods. Types of allostatic load include (1) frequent activation of allostatic systems; (2) failure to shut off allostatic activity after stress; (3) inadequate response of allostatic systems leading to elevated activity of other, normally counter-regulated allostatic systems after stress. Examples will be given for each type of allostatic load from research pertaining to autonomic, CNS, neuroendocrine, and immune system activity. The relationship of allostatic load to genetic and developmental predispositions to disease is also considered.

Cohen, S., Tyrrell, D.A.J., Smith, A.P. (1991). Psychological stress and susceptibility to the common cold. The New England Journal of Medicine, 325(9), pp. 606-612. (doi:);

New Papers on Stress

Lebois, L. A.M., Hertzog, C., Slavich, G. M., Barrett, L. F. and Barsalou, L. W. (2016) Establishing the situated features associated with perceived stress. Acta Psychologica, 169, pp. 119-132. (doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.05.012) (PMID:27288834);

Abstract: We propose that the domain general process of categorization contributes to the perception of stress. When a situation contains features associated with stressful experiences, it is categorized as stressful. From the perspective of situated cognition, the features used to categorize experiences as stressful are the features typically true of stressful situations. To test this hypothesis, we asked participants to evaluate the perceived stress of 572 imagined situations, and to also evaluate each situation for how much it possessed 19 features potentially associated with stressful situations and their processing (e.g., self-threat, familiarity, visual imagery, outcome certainty). Following variable reduction through factor analysis, a core set of 8 features associated with stressful situations—expectation violation, self-threat, coping efficacy, bodily experience, arousal, negative valence, positive valence, and perseveration—all loaded on a single Core Stress Features factor. In a multilevel model, this factor and an Imagery factor explained 88% of the variance in judgments of perceived stress, with significant random effects reflecting differences in how individual participants categorized stress. These results support the hypothesis that people categorize situations as stressful to the extent that typical features of stressful situations are present. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to establish a comprehensive set of features that predicts perceived stress.