Familiar and novel contexts yield different associations between cortisol and behavior among 2-year-old children

Michelle De Haan, Megan R. Gunnar, Kathryn Tout, Jordan Hart, Kathy Stansbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

77 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Volume33
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1998

Keywords

  • Children
  • Cortisol
  • Temperament

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