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Dev Psychobiol. 2008 Apr;50(3):205-16. doi: 10.1002/dev.20283.

Vagal tone and temperament as predictors of emotion regulation strategies in young children.

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Center for Research on Health Care, University of Pittsburgh, Suite 600, 230 McKee Place, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


We examined indices of vagal tone and two dimensions of temperament as predictors of emotion regulation (ER) strategies among children (n = 54, ages 4-7) of mothers with a history of depression and control mothers. Children's (adaptive and maladaptive) ER strategies were observed during a delay of gratification (frustration) task in one protocol. In a separate and independent protocol, vagal tone was assessed during rest (baseline), during emotional challenge (reactivity) and post-challenge (recovery) and mothers rated their children's temperament (effortful control, negative affectivity). Lower vagal recovery and higher negative affectivity were associated with maladaptive ER responses to frustration. However, vagal tone and temperament were not associated with adaptive ER responses and maternal depression status did not affect the results. Overall, the findings are consistent with models of vagal tone and temperament as markers of individual differences in ER.

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