Background: This paper examined children's fearful, sad, and angry reactivity to interparental conflict as mediators of associations between their exposure to interparental aggression and physiological functioning. Methods: Participants included 200 toddlers and their mothers. Assessments of interparental aggression and children's emotional reactivity were derived from maternal surveys and a semi-structured interview. Cortisol levels and cardiac indices of sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity were used to assess toddler physiological functioning. Results: Results indicated that toddler exposure to interparental aggression was associated with greater cortisol levels and PNS activity and diminished SNS activity. Toddler angry emotional reactivity mediated associations between interparental aggression and cortisol and PNS functioning. Fearful emotional reactivity was a mediator of the link between interparental aggression and SNS functioning. Conclusions: The results are interpreted within conceptualizations of how exposure and reactivity to family risk organize individual differences in physiological functioning.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines|
|State||Published - Nov 2009|
- Emotion regulation
- Family factors
- Marital disharmony