This study drew upon the physiological model of stress and desensitization processes to deduce hypotheses linking the intensity of conflict communication and exposure to familial verbal aggression in childhood to experiences of conflict within romantic relationships. One hundred college-aged students (50 dating couples) participated in a dyadic interaction in which partners discussed a source of conflict in their romantic relationship. Participants reported childhood exposure to familial verbal aggression, third-party observers rated the intensity of conflict communication, and salivary cortisol indexed physiological stress responses to the conflict interactions. As predicted, results showed a positive association between conflict intensity and cortisol reactivity, and this association was attenuated for individuals who reported higher, rather than lower, levels of childhood exposure to familial verbal aggression.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language