Prior research has demonstrated that vulnerability to stress is influenced by early life experiences. This study evaluates the impact of negative childhood family relationships on cardiovascular stress reactivity in young adulthood. Participants (age 18-22) from families characterized by negative (n. =. 39) or positive relationships (n. =. 36) engaged in a role-play conflict task. Hostile/aggressive verbal behaviors during the task were observed, and blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) responses were measured before, during, and after the task. Participants from negative families engaged in more hostile/aggressive verbal behavior during the task and showed attenuated HR reactivity. Hostile/aggressive verbal behavior predicted attenuated HR reactivity and recovery. Path analyses linked negative family relationships to more hostile verbal behavior during the task, and attenuated HR reactivity and recovery. These results support the development of hostile/aggressive behavior in social situations as a pathway linking childhood adversity to stress vulnerability across the lifespan.
- Cardiovascular reactivity
- Childhood adversity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)