Effect of Parent Modeled Coping and Socialization of Coping on Preadolescent Stress Reactivity

Open Access
Chen, Anna Elise
Area of Honors:
Biobehavioral Health
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Martha Ellen Wadsworth, Thesis Supervisor
  • David John Vandenbergh, Honors Advisor
  • coping
  • stress
  • biobehavioral
  • health
  • psychology
  • parenting
  • children
  • socialization
Effective coping behaviors can diminish the negative effects of stress. Children learn how to cope with stress from their parents’ modeled and socialized coping styles. This study aims to understand the links between parent modeling of coping and socialization of coping, both engagement and disengagement, and child physiological reactivity during a stressful encounter. We hypothesize that child coping, as learned from his or her parent, will mediate the relationship between parent modeled and suggested coping and child physiological reactivity to stress. A sample of 92 preadolescents and one of their parents participated in the study. Data from parent (P) and child (C) Responses to Stress Questionnaire and parent (P) Socialization of Coping Questionnaire were collected to evaluate modeled engagement (RSQE) and disengagement (RSQD) and socialized engagement (SOCE) and disengagement (SOCD). Child salivary cortisol responses (AUCg) to the Trier Social Stress Test were measured. Initial results show that parent modeled and suggested coping are not related to child physiological stress reactivity. Therefore, because the first step for mediation as outlined by Barron & Kenny (1986) failed to be confirmed, mediation tests were not conducted. Despite this, trending p-values suggested that children with parents who modeled higher levels of engagement had higher cortisol levels (M=.058, SD=.089) than children of parents who modeled lower levels of engagement (M=.025, SD=.074); t (82)= -1.85, p<.068. This same trend was observed for cortisol levels in children with parents who modeled lower levels of disengagement (M=.056, SD=.093) as compared to parents who modeled higher levels of disengagement (M=.023, SD=.065); t (82)=1.84, p<.069. Additionally, parent-reports of socialization of engagement were related to child use of engagement strategies (P-SOCE – C-RSQE, r=.209, p<.046) and inversely related to their child’s use of disengagement strategies (P-SOCE – C-RSQD, r=-.284, p<.006), but parent socialization of disengagement did not predict similar behaviors in children. Findings highlight the importance of parental modeled and socialized coping and how it may be applicable to parent and child interventions in the future.