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Reciprocal Influences among Adrenocortical Activation, Psychosocial Processes, and the Behavioral Adjustment of Clinic-Referred Children

Douglas A. Granger, John R. Weisz, James T. McCracken, Sandra C. Ikeda and Pamela Douglas
Child Development
Vol. 67, No. 6 (Dec., 1996), pp. 3250-3262
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1131777
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1131777
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Reciprocal Influences among Adrenocortical Activation, Psychosocial Processes, and the Behavioral Adjustment of Clinic-Referred Children
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Abstract

The reciprocal effects among cognitive-behavioral, environmental, and biological influences on clinic-referred children's (N = 64; 34 boys; M age 12.71 years) short-term psychological and psychiatric adjustment were studied. At clinic intake and 6 months later, standardized measures of adjustment and control-related beliefs were assessed. Before and after conflict-oriented parent-child interaction tasks the children's saliva was sampled. Adrenocortical responses (i. e., increases in salivary cortisol) to the social conflict task predicted children's internalizing problem behaviors and anxiety disorders at follow-up. Consistently high adrenocortical reactivity at intake and follow-up was associated with deflated social competence over the 6-month period. Also, specific patterns of discontinuity in children's internalizing behavior problems predicted individual differences in their subsequent adrenocortical responsiveness. Specifically, rising behavior problem levels across time predicted higher and declining behavior problem levels predicted lower adrenocortical reactivity at follow-up. Findings are among the first to suggest links among internalizing behavior problems, adrenocortical responsiveness to social challenge, and clinic-referred children's short-term cognitive-behavioral and emotional adjustment.

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