Parent-child relationship quality moderates the link between marital conflict and adolescents' physiological responses to social evaluative threat

Rachel G. Lucas-Thompson, Douglas A. Granger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


This study examined how marital conflict and parent- child relationship quality moderate individual differences in adolescents' adrenocortical and autonomic nervous system (ANS) responses to social evaluative threat. Saliva samples (later assayed for cortisol and alpha-amylase, sAA) were collected from 153 youth (52% female, ages 10-17 years) before and after, and cardiovascular activity was assessed before and during, the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Marital conflict predicted higher levels of sAA reactivity but lower levels of heart rate (HR) reactivity. Parent- child relationship quality moderated these associations, such that marital conflict was more strongly related to heightened sAA and dampened SBP reactivity if youth had low-quality relationships with their parents. The findings suggest a "dual-hazard" pathway with implications for biosocial models of the family, as well as theories of the social determinants of biological sensitivity/susceptibility to context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-548
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014



  • Alpha-amylase
  • Cortisol
  • Marital conflict
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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