The goal of the study was to determine whether father-daughter relationship quality is related to activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (salivary cortisol) and autonomic nervous system (salivary alpha-amylase, sAA) in late adolescence-emerging adulthood during peer interactions. In the 1st study, reported father-daughter relationships characterized by rejection, chaos, and coercion had lower morning cortisol levels and were temperamentally more sensitive to emotional changes. In the 2nd study, young women who reported father-daughter relationships characterized by warmth, autonomy, support, and structure had lower pretask cortisol levels, and they had attenuated cortisol responses to problem discussion with a friend. In contrast, those who reported father-daughter relationships characterized by rejection, chaos, and coercion had higher pretask cortisol levels, had elevated cortisol in response to problem discussion with a friend, and were more likely to self-disclose about psychosocial stressors. No differences were observed between reported father-daughter relationship quality and sAA levels or task-related reactivity. The findings suggest that father-daughter interactions potentially influence both social cognition and HPA reactivity to developmentally salient stressors in young women.
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