Send to

Choose Destination
Emotion. 2016 Feb;16(1):83-93. doi: 10.1037/emo0000105. Epub 2015 Aug 31.

Sharing the burden: The interpersonal regulation of emotional arousal in mother-daughter dyads.

Author information

Department of Psychology, Queen's University.
School of Psychology, Australian Catholic University.


According to social baseline theory (Beckes & Coan, 2011), load sharing is a feature of close relationships whereby the burden of emotional distress is distributed across relationship partners. Load sharing varies by physical closeness and relationship quality. We investigated the effect of load sharing on emotional arousal via galvanic skin response, an indicator of sympathetic nervous system arousal, during a social stressor. Social stress was elicited in 66 adolescent girls (Mage = 15 years) using a spontaneous public-speaking task. Mother-daughter dyads reported their relationship quality, and physical closeness was manipulated by having mothers either touch or not touch their daughter's hand during the performance. We found evidence of load sharing among dyads who held hands, independent of relationship quality. However, without physical contact, load sharing was only evident among dyads with higher relationship quality. Thus, high relationship quality buffers against threat in a similar way to the physical comfort of a loved one.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association
Loading ...
Support Center