Children's patterns of emotional reactivity to conflict as explanatory mechanisms in links between interpartner aggression and child physiological functioning

Patrick T. Davies, Melissa L. Sturge-Apple, Dante Cicchetti, Liviah G. Manning, Emily Zale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

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 languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1384-1391
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Volume50
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009

Keywords

  • Emotion regulation
  • Family factors
  • Hormones
  • Marital disharmony
  • Psychophysiology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Children's patterns of emotional reactivity to conflict as explanatory mechanisms in links between interpartner aggression and child physiological functioning'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this