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

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Nadya Dich, Stacey N Doan, Gary W Evans

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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChild Development
Volume86
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)936–944
Number of pages9
ISSN0009-3920
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

ID: 132949324