Emotion socialization as a predictor of physiological and psychological responses to stress

Academic Article


  • Reactivity patterns to acute stress are important indicators of physical and mental health. However, the relationships between emotion socialization and stress responses are not well understood. This study aimed to examine whether parental responses to negative emotions predicted physiological and psychological responses to acute stress in late adolescence and emerging adulthood, and whether these relationships varied by gender and ethnicity. Participants were 973 individuals (mean age=19.20years; 50% male; 63% African American, 34% European American) who reported on parental emotion socialization. Participants completed a standardized social stress test (the Trier Social Stress Test; TSST). Heart rate, blood pressure and salivary samples were assessed from baseline throughout the task and during recovery period. Psychological responses to stress were measured immediately after the TSST. Unsupportive parental responses to children's negative emotions were associated with blunted cortisol reactivity and greater negative emotions to a psychosocial stress task in females and African American youth, whereas supportive parental responses predicted greater cortisol reactivity and lower negative emotions to stress in European American youth, as well as less negative emotions in males. However, parental responses to negative emotions did not predict heart rate or SBP reactivity to the TSST. Findings suggest that parental emotion socialization may be an important factor influencing HPA axis reactivity and psychological responses to stress, with important differences across gender and ethnic youth subgroups.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Guo J; Mrug S; Knight DC
  • Start Page

  • 119
  • End Page

  • 129
  • Volume

  • 175