We examined 10:30 a.m. salivary cortisol levels in twenty-four 2-year- old children at home, and then at several points during transition into preschool: Week 1, Weeks 6-9, and the 1st week following a month-long holiday break. Cortisol levels did not increase when the children first started school as compared to either home or later school levels. Cortisol levels were correlated across similar, but not across dissimilar, psychosocial contexts. Home levels were correlated with more shy, anxious, internalizing behavior, while the response to starting school was correlated with more assertive, angry, and aggressive behavior. Behavior was assessed using parent temperament reports, teacher reports, and observational measures. We conclude that HPA activity as indexed by salivary cortisol measures is differentially associated with behavior in familiar and novel contexts. Consistent with our prior work, shy/anxious behavior is not significantly associated with elevations in cortisol when young children enter new social situations.
|Number of pages
|Published - 1998