Mood variability and the psychosocial adjustment of adolescents

Reed Larson, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Ronald Graef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research uses a new time sampling method to compare adolescent and adult mood variability. Over 9000 self-reports from 182 people are used to evaluate the widespread theoretical assumption that adolescents experience greater mood variability as part of a syndrome of psychosocial disequilibrium. The findings confirm that adolescents experience wider and quicker mood swings, but do not show that this variability is related to stress, lack of personal control, psychological maladjustment, or social maladjustment within individual teenagers. Rather than representing turmoil, wide mood swings appear to be a natural part of an adolescent peer-oriented life style. However, there are indications that adolescent mood variability interferes with capacity for deep involvement, especially in school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-490
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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