Friends, Peers, and Stress Study

UPDATE: This study has completed enrollment as of Fall 2023.

Are friends able to help buffer children and teens from stress? The goal of this research study is to measure the physical response to common forms of stress in children and adolescents, like taking a timed exam or giving a speech. We are interested in whether the presence of a friend or even a peer they just met can reduce the body’s biological reaction to these common stressors.

How does the online research study work?

At the first visit, we will practice the Zoom call, be sure we have a sufficient connection and a private environment.  We will teach you how to use Zoom & collect saliva samples, and then the parent completes some background questionnaires about the family, your child and your COVID-19 experiences. This online session should last about 30 minutes. After completing the parent surveys, you would receive $20 on a debit card. 

At the second Zoom visit, your child will be doing a public speaking task, a math task, and answering questionnaires. During the session, we also collect saliva samples from the child. Some kids will do this session alone, some will do this with a friend, and some will do this with a child that they have never met before. This visit lasts about 2.5 hrs. Your child would receive $50 for this visit, once we receive their saliva samples by mail. 


  • 11 – 14 years old
  • access to stable internet connection and Zoom
  • located in continental United States

Interested or have questions? Email the research team at or call 612-524-9903.

This project is a collaboration between Kathleen Thomas, Ph.D., and Megan Gunnar, Ph.D., both at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota. This study is approved by the UMN Institutional Review Board #STUDY00006288.