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12-10-2019 | Empirical Research

Youth Parasympathetic Functioning Moderates Relations between Cumulative Family Risk and Internalizing Behaviors

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence
Auteurs:
Marta Benito-Gomez, Anne C. Fletcher, Cheryl Buehler
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Abstract

Problematic family functioning places young adolescents at risk for internalizing behaviors. However, not all adolescents who experience family risk develop internalizing behaviors during early adolescence. Informed by a cumulative risk perspective, the current study examined whether associations between cumulative family risk, as well as particular family risk domains, and youth internalizing behaviors are moderated by youth parasympathetic reactivity. Participants include 68 young adolescents in 6th grade. Youth were 56% female, 41% African American, and 54% European American. For young adolescents who experienced higher change in respiratory sinus arrhythmia during a challenge/stressor task, greater cumulative family risk, exposure to more family risk domains, and several particular risk factors (maternal psychological well-being, marital/family system risk), were associated with higher levels of internalizing behaviors. The findings from this study demonstrate that the extent to which both particular family risk factors and cumulative family risk place youth at increased risk for internalizing behaviors depends on youth’s parasympathetic functioning.

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