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Emotion regulation in late adolescent couples: Temperament, attachment, and HPA reactivity

Heidemarie K Laurent, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Difficulty managing the stress of conflict in close relationships can lead to relationship distress and internalizing problems, possibly through dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, the neuroendocrine stress response system. Temperament, an individual characteristic, and attachment, a dyadic characteristic, have both been implicated in emotion regulation processes and physiological reactivity, yet there is no clear consensus on how the two relate to each other and to stress response, especially after childhood. The present study investigated the relationship between temperament and attachment, as well as how temperament and attachment together predict HPA reactivity in late adolescent couples. Analyses using multilevel modeling (HLM) found direct and interactive effects of partners' negative emotionality on their attachment security, as well as effects of temperament and attachment on their HPA trajectories. Partner's temperament and attachment moderated effects of own levels of these variables, and attachment security moderated the effects of temperament within individuals, with different predictive patterns emerging for males vs. females. Results are discussed in terms of emotional coregulation processes in romantic attachment and how gender role expectations intersect with social-emotional constructs to predict adjustment.

Subject Area

Psychobiology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Laurent, Heidemarie K, "Emotion regulation in late adolescent couples: Temperament, attachment, and HPA reactivity" (2008). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3325112.