Children's skin conductance reactivity as a mechanism of risk in the context of parental depressive symptoms

E. Mark Cummings, Mona El-Sheikh, Chrystyna D. Kouros, Peggy S. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Background: Children's physiological reactivity was examined as a moderator of relations between parental dysphoria and child adjustment problems, addressing gaps in the study of child characteristics as risk processes. Method: One hundred fifty-seven children (86 boys, 71 girls)were assessed twice over a two-year interval. Skin conductance level reactivity (SCLR) to inter-adult argument and problem-solving tasks was observed. Results: SCLR moderated longitudinal predictions of children's internalizing, externalizing and social adjustment problems, especially for paternal rather than maternal dysphoria. Higher SCLR predicted greater vulnerability to parental depressive symptomatology. Conclusions: Findings highlight that individual differences in children's physiological reactivity may relate to risk for adjustment problems in the context of parental depressive symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-445
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2007


  • Child adjustment
  • Depression
  • Fathering
  • Physiological reactivity
  • Skin conductance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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