Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dianna . Murray-Close


Low levels of physiological arousal in response to stress (e.g., low skin conductance level reactivity; SCLR) have long been conceptualized as a marker of fearlessness and a risk factor for physical aggression (e.g., hitting). Less is known, however, about how individual differences in children’s SCLR and early caregiving experiences interact to produce aggressive behavior. Preliminary evidence suggests that children with low SCLR may be at an increased risk of aggression in the context of highly negative or low positive parenting. Additionally, although most early parenting socialization research has focused on physical aggression, mounting evidence implicates parenting style in the development of relational aggression (i.e., inflicting harm by damaging one’s relationships). In a community sample of 236 pre-adolescent children, we examined children’s SCLR, assessed during a standard laboratory interview, as a moderator of the link between parents’ self-reported positive (i.e., authoritative) and negative (i.e., permissive, authoritarian, psychologically controlling) parenting styles and children’s relational aggression, reported by teachers. Results indicated that increased levels of negative parenting predicted increased relational aggression; however, only permissive parenting marginally interacted with SCLR (p = .076), such that higher levels of permissive parenting predicted increased relational aggression for children with low, but not high, SCLR. No significant main effects or interactions were found with positive parenting. Overall, the results from the present study suggest that decreasing rates of negative parenting may be key to decreasing children’s relational aggression, and that behavioral monitoring and limit-setting with follow-through may be especially important facets of parenting for children with low physiological reactivity.



Number of Pages

75 p.

Available for download on Saturday, November 20, 2021

Included in

Psychology Commons