What constitutes effective coping and efficient physiologic regulation following psychosocial stress depends on involuntary stress responses

Jason J. Bendezú, E. D.Perzow Sarah, E. Wadsworth Martha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


This study utilized a random-assignment experimental design to examine the interactive contributions of youth-reported trait involuntary stress responses (ISRs) and effortful coping on physiologic reactivity and recovery patterns in preadolescent boys and girls. Fourth- and fifth-grade child-parent dyads (N = 126) participated in this study. Children were exposed to the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST-C) and then to one of two randomly-assigned experimental coping conditions: behavioral distraction and cognitive avoidance. Children's ISRs were examined as predictors of salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase (sAA) reactivity as well as moderators of the effect of coping condition on cortisol and sAA recovery trajectories. Multi-level modeling analyses did not link ISRs to physiologic reactivity patterning. ISRs and coping condition interacted to predict differential physiologic recovery trajectories. In the distraction condition, children reporting high ISR levels displayed less efficient cortisol and sAA recovery than children reporting low ISR levels. Surprisingly, the opposite was found for children reporting high ISR levels in the avoidance condition. These children displayed more efficient physiologic recovery relative to their high ISR level peers in the distraction condition. Findings suggest that the efficiency of preadolescents’ physiologic recovery following stress may depend on regulatory fit between children's ISR levels and cues from their coping environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-50
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2016


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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