Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 41 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Elana B Gordis

Committee Members

Leslie Halpern


childhood depression, children and youth, salivary alpha-amylase, Stress in children, Depression in children, Stress (Physiology)

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Research indicates that asymmetry between behavioral and physiological indicators of stress is associated with impairment in physical and psychological health, which may be particularly problematic for child development. The present study examines the impact of depressive symptoms on the relation between behavioral and physiological responses to stress in a sample of 49 youth (ages 9-12). During exposure to an in-lab psychosocial stressor, two laboratory personnel coded participant stress behaviors. These behaviors were later categorized into factors through an exploratory factor analysis. To assess for reactivity in physiological stress response systems, saliva samples were collected at baseline and following the stressor task. Sympathetic nervous system (SNS) reactivity was indexed by salivary alpha-amylase (sAA). Additionally, participants completed self-report questionnaires to assess for depressive symptoms. The two-way interaction between physical stress behaviors and depressive symptoms accounted for unique variance in sAA reactivity. Results suggest that children with fewer depressive symptoms exhibit greater alignment between behavioral and physiological responses to stress. Future research should continue to examine factors that contribute to behavioral and physiological asymmetry among children. Additionally, research may benefit from the inclusion of indicators of parasympathetic activity.