Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Advisor/Committee Chair

Samantha A. Barry

Committee Member

Elana B. Gordis


The present study examines the relation between harsh parenting experienced during adolescence on anxiety symptoms during adulthood as moderated by the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity and family stability. Participants completed questionnaires assessing parenting styles, the regularity or family activities, and current anxiety symptoms (61 adults; mean age = 19.39 years; 50.8% European American; 47.5% male). PNS activity was measured by resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). The results suggest that among males, relatively high RSA buffers the effects of harsh parenting on anxiety symptoms. Also, for males, the stability of home life at relatively high levels can be a protective factor for increased levels of reported anxiety symptoms in a non-abusive environment. There were no significant findings for female participants. The results indicate that high RSA and high levels of family stability are both protective against the negative effects of harsh parenting.

Included in

Psychology Commons