Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jamie Abaied


In this study I examined the moderating effect of three profiles of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA at baseline, in response to a stressor, and in recovery from a stressor) on the relationship between parental emotion socialization during an emotion-related discussion and parental report of child internalizing symptoms 6 months later. Parents were observed during an emotion discussion task and coded for their use of emotion encouragement and general positive involvement. A total of 65 families with children between the ages of eight and ten years old completed this task while RSA scores were obtained from children during baseline, task, and recovery phases. Regression analyses were conducted to test for main effects of parental emotion socialization and RSA, as well as two-way emotion socialization x RSA interactions, in the development of internalizing symptoms 6 months following the initial interview. Interactions were further examined for the degree they statistically conformed to either a diathesis-stress or biological sensitivity to context framework (BSC). Hypotheses were partially supported: main effects were found for RSA baseline and recovery, whereas RSA reactivity moderated the association between parental emotion encouragement and child internalizing symptoms, such that parents of children exhibiting RSA withdrawal reported greater internalizing symptoms in the context of low emotion encouragement and lesser internalizing symptoms in the context of high emotion encouragement. This study highlights the importance of considering child psychophysiology, particularly reactivity to stress, in the study of the effects of parental emotion socialization on the development of psychopathology during childhood.



Number of Pages

74 p.