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01-07-2014 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 7/2014

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 7/2014

Exposure to Violence Predicting Cortisol Response During Adolescence and Early Adulthood: Understanding Moderating Factors

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 7/2014
Auteurs:
Sophie M. Aiyer, Justin E. Heinze, Alison L. Miller, Sarah A. Stoddard, Marc A. Zimmerman

Abstract

Previous research on the association between violence and biological stress regulation has been largely cross-sectional, and has also focused on childhood. Using longitudinal data from a low-income, high-risk, predominantly African-American sample (n = 266; 57 % female), we tested hypotheses about the influence of cumulative exposure to violence during adolescence and early adulthood on cortisol responses in early adulthood. We found that cumulative exposure to violence predicted an attenuated cortisol response. Further, we tested whether sex, mothers’ support, or fathers’ support moderated the effect of exposure to violence on cortisol responses. We found that the effect of cumulative exposure to violence on cortisol was modified by sex; specifically, males exposed to violence exhibited a more attenuated response pattern. In addition, the effect of cumulative exposure to violence on cortisol was moderated by the presence of fathers’ support during adolescence. The findings contribute to a better understanding of how cumulative exposure to violence influences biological outcomes, emphasizing the need to understand sex and parental support as moderators of risk.

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