Resting vagal tone and vagal response to stress: Associations with anxiety, aggression, and perceived anxiety control among youths

Authors

  • Brandon G. Scott,

    Corresponding author
    1. Prevention Research Center, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA
    • Address correspondence to: Brandon Scott, Prevention Research Center, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA. E-mail: bgscott@asu.edu

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  • Carl F. Weems

    1. Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
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  • The research discussed in this article was made possible by grants from the University of New Orleans College of Sciences to Carl F. Weems and from the University of New Orleans Graduate School to Brandon G. Scott. Manuscript preparation was made possible by a training grant (T32-MH018387) from the National Institute of Mental Health.

Abstract

This study tested the associations of both resting vagal tone and vagal response to stress with anxiety control beliefs, anxiety, and aggression among 80 youths (aged 11–17 years). Measures included physiological assessments of emotion regulation along with youth self-report of anxiety control beliefs, anxiety, and aggression and caregiver reports of their child's anxiety and aggression. Resting vagal tone was positively related to anxiety control beliefs, but negatively associated with anxiety. Conversely, higher levels of anxiety and aggression were associated with increased vagal tone during a cognitive stress task. Findings suggest associations between physiological and self-report of emotion regulation (anxiety control beliefs) and that anxiety and aggression may have specific and nonspecific relations with physiological indices of emotion regulation.

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