Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors


Psychological Sciences

First Advisor

Dianna Murray-Close


socialization of coping, stress reactivity, coping, parenting, respiratory sinus arrhythmia, skin conductance reactivity, differential susceptibility, diathesis-stress


This study investigated whether primary engagement, secondary engagement, and disengagement parent coping suggestions were related to children’s coping behavior following peer stress, and whether physiological reactivity, indexed by skin conductance level reactivity (SCL-R; a measure of sympathetic nervous system activity) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia reactivity (RSA-R; a measure of parasympathetic nervous system activity), moderated this association. Participants were 99 children (M = 10.76 years, 51% male) and one of their parents (84% mothers). Parents reported the extent to which they suggested, and the extent that their child employed, each coping strategy. Physiological reactivity was measured while children recounted a recent peer-based stressor. Regression analyses indicated that parental suggestions were positively related to children’s use of coping strategies. Furthermore, consistent with differential susceptibility theory, children with greater SCL-R were more responsive to parent socialization of primary engagement coping. However, for secondary engagement coping, children with RSA augmentation showed particularly low levels of secondary engagement coping when parents rarely encouraged these coping responses, consistent with a diathesis-stress model. Findings suggest different moderation effects between SCL-R and RSA-R based on the type of coping strategy and provide important insights regarding how parenting may be influenced by the child’s physiology.