Parent-child relationship, temperament, and physiological reactions to fear-inducing film clips: Further evidence for differential susceptibility

Renske Gilissen, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marinus H. van IJzendoorn*, René van der Veer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Recent studies have supported the intriguing hypothesis that highly reactive infants are most susceptible to the effect of parenting. This study replicates and extends an earlier study on 4-year-olds concerning higher susceptibility of more fearful children to the quality of their relationships with their mothers, as shown by their physiological reactions to fear-inducing film clips. Two groups of children (4- and 7-year-olds) were shown the same fear-inducing and neutral film clips. During the film clips, their skin conductance and heart rate variability were measured. Both 4- and 7-year-olds responded to the fear-inducing film clips with increases in skin conductance and decreases in heart rate variability. A secure relationship affected the reactivity to fearful stimuli in temperamentally more fearful children but not in less fearful children irrespective of children's ages. Our findings add to the growing literature showing that children high in negative emotion are more susceptible to positive as well as negative rearing influences for better and for worse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-195
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Volume99
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Children
  • Differential susceptibility
  • Fear
  • Parent-child relationship
  • Physiological reactivity
  • Temperament

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