The present study examined salivary alpha amylase (sAA), a putative marker of adrenergic activity, in family members engaging in family conflict discussions. We examined symmetry among family members' sAA levels at baseline and in response to a conflict discussion. The relation between a history of interparental aggression on parent-adolescent sAA symmetry also was examined. Participants were 62 families with a mother, father, and biological child age 13-18 (n=29 girls). After engaging in a relaxation procedure, families participated in a 15-minute triadic family conflict discussion. Participants provided saliva samples at post-relaxation/pre-discussion, immediately post-discussion, and at 10 and 20. min post-discussion. Participants also reported on interparental physical aggression during the previous year. Across the sample we found evidence of symmetry between mothers' and adolescents' sAA levels at baseline and around the discussion. Interparental aggression was associated with lower sAA levels among fathers. Interparental aggression also affected patterns of parent-child sAA response symmetry such that families reporting interparental aggression exhibited greater father-adolescent sAA symmetry than did those with no reports of interparental aggression. Among families with no interparental aggression history, we found consistent mother-adolescent symmetry. These differences suggest different patterns of parent-adolescent physiological attunement among families with interparental aggression.
- Family conflict and sympathetic nervous system activity
- Interparental aggression
- Salivary alpha amylase
- Sympathetic nervous system
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Behavioral Neuroscience