Stress Regulation in Adolescents: Physiological Reactivity During the Adult Attachment Interview and Conflict Interaction


  • Support from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research to the second author (NWO VIDI grant) and to the third author (NWO SPINOZA Prize) is gratefully acknowledged. We also acknowledge the financial support received from Wereldkinderen and Stichting Kind en Toekomst to F.J. We thank the adolescents and their parents for their participation. Our thanks are also to Nicole Bimmel and Karin Dofferhoff who contributed to various phases of the project.

concerning this article should be addressed to Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Centre for Child and Family Studies, Leiden University, P.O. Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands. Electronic mail may be sent to


The current study examined whether adolescents’ attachment representations were associated with differences in emotion regulation during the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI; C. George, N. Kaplan, & M. Main, 1996) and during a mother–adolescent conflict interaction task (Family Interaction Task [FIT]; J. P. Allen et al., 2003). Participants were one hundred and fifty-six 14-year-old adolescents. Dismissing adolescents showed less interbeat interval (IBI) reactivity (indicating less stress) during the AAI than secure adolescents. However, during the FIT, dismissing adolescents showed more IBI reactivity. No differences in physiological reactivity were found between individuals with resolved or unresolved loss or trauma during the AAI or FIT. The results indicate that dismissing adolescents may effectively use a defensive strategy during the AAI but less so in direct conflict interaction with their attachment figure.