Children's Emotionality Moderates the Association Between Maternal Responsiveness and Allostatic Load: Investigation Into Differential Susceptibility

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Claremont McKenna College, Psychology (CMC)

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While emotionality is often thought of as a risk factor, differential susceptibility theory argues that emotionality reflects susceptibility to both positive and negative environmental influences. The present study explored whether emotional children might be more susceptible to the effects of both high and low maternal responsiveness on allostatic load, a physiological indicator of chronic stress. Participants were 226 mother and child dyads. Mothers reported on children's emotionality at child age 9. Maternal responsiveness was measured at age 13 using self-reports and behavioral observation. Allostatic load was measured at age 13 and 17 using neuroendocrine, cardiovascular, and metabolic biomarkers. Emotionality was associated with higher allostatic load if self-reported responsiveness was low, but with lower allostatic load, when self-reported responsiveness was high.

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© 2015 The Authors. Child Development © 2015 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.

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