This research was supported by NIH-NRSA Grant F32HD063255 awarded to Saxbe and by NIH-NICHD Grant R01 HD046807 and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation Grant 00-12802 awarded to Margolin. We thank the families who participated in the study and other members of the USC Family Studies Project.
Does Dampened Physiological Reactivity Protect Youth in Aggressive Family Environments?
Article first published online: 30 MAR 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.
Volume 83, Issue 3, pages 821–830, May/June 2012
How to Cite
Saxbe, D. E., Margolin, G., Spies Shapiro, L. A. and Baucom, B. R. (2012), Does Dampened Physiological Reactivity Protect Youth in Aggressive Family Environments?. Child Development, 83: 821–830. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01752.x
- Issue published online: 1 MAY 2012
- Article first published online: 30 MAR 2012
Is an attenuated physiological response to family conflict, seen in some youth exposed to early adversity, protective or problematic? A longitudinal study including 54 youth (average age 15.2 years) found that those with higher cumulative family aggression exposure showed lower cortisol output during a laboratory-based conflict discussion with their parents, and were less likely to show the normative pattern of increased cortisol reactivity to a discussion they rated as more conflictual. Family aggression interacted with cortisol reactivity in predicting youth adjustment: Adolescents from more aggressive homes who were also more reactive to the discussion reported more posttraumatic stress symptoms and more antisocial behavior. These results suggest that attenuated reactivity may protect youth from the negative consequences associated with aggressive family environments.