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Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother. 2008 May;36(3):185-90. doi: 10.1024/1422-4917.36.3.185.

Personality correlates of physiological response to stress among incarcerated juveniles.

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  • 1University of California, San Francisco,CA 94143-0850, USA.



To examine the relationship between personality type and physiological response to stress among juvenile delinquents.


Delinquent males (N = 42, mean age 16.5, SD = 1) recruited from a convenience sample at local juvenile detention facility were compared to a male control sample from a local high school (N = 79; mean age 16.1, SD = 0.8). All participants completed the Weinberger Adjustment Inventory and a Stress-Inducing Speech Task during both of which heart rate was measured.


Compared to controls, delinquent youths showed significantly lower heart rates under both free association and stress conditions (p < 0.05) and a lower rate of increase during stressful stimuli (p < 0.05). Among delinquents, those with a non-reactive personality type appeared to show consistently lower levels of physiological arousal as measured by heart rate.


Delinquents consistently had lower overall levels of arousal as measured by heart rate. In delinquent boys, we also found a persistently low arousal group with a non-reactive psychological pattern. This combination may be a forerunner of future psychopathy or a product of the developmental trajectory that leads to and results from psychopathic behavior.

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