A method for making a composite polymeric material with electrical conductivity determined by stress-tuning of the conductor-polymer composite, and sensors made with the stress-tuned conductor-polymer composite made by this method. Stress tuning is achieved by mixing a miscible liquid into the polymer precursor solution or by absorbing into the precursor solution a soluble compound from vapor in contact with the polymer precursor solution. The conductor may or may not be ordered by application of a magnetic field. The composite is formed by polymerization with the stress-tuning agent in the polymer matrix. The stress-tuning agent is removed following polymerization to produce a conductor-polymer composite with a stress field that depends on the amount of stress-tuning agent employed.