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ERIC Number: EJ978195
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Jan
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0012-1649
Interparental Violence, Maternal Emotional Unavailability and Children's Cortisol Functioning in Family Contexts
Sturge-Apple, Melissa L.; Davies, Patrick T.; Cicchetti, Dante; Manning, Liviah G.
Developmental Psychology, v48 n1 p237-249 Jan 2012
Our goal in the present study was to examine the specificity of pathways among interparental violence, maternal emotional unavailability, and children's cortisol reactivity to emotional stressors within interparental and parent-child relationships. The study also tested whether detrimental family contexts were associated, on average, with hypocortisolism or hypercortisolism responses to stressful family interactions in young children. Participants included 201 toddlers and their mothers who were from impoverished backgrounds and who experienced disproportionate levels of family violence. Assessments of interparental violence were derived from maternal surveys and interviews, whereas maternal emotional unavailability was assessed through maternal reports and observer ratings of caregiving. Salivary cortisol levels were sampled at 3 time points before and after laboratory paradigms designed to elicit children's reactivity to stressful interparental and parent-child contexts. Results indicated that interparental violence and the mother's emotional unavailability were differentially associated with children's adrenocorticol stress reactivity. Furthermore, these family risk contexts predicted lower cortisol change in response to distress. The results are interpreted in the context of risky family and emotional security theory conceptualizations that underscore how family contexts differentially impact children's physiological regulatory capacities. (Contains 3 figures and 1 table.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A