Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (iii, v, 46 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Elana Gordis

Committee Members

Julia Hormes


Anxiety, Autonomic nervous system, Depression, Interparental aggression, Posttraumatic stress disorder, Family violence, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Distress (Psychology), Parent and child, Parental influences, Psychology, Pathological

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology | Psychiatry and Psychology


The present study examines the impact of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), an indicator of parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) activity, and skin conductance level (SCL), an indicator of sympathetic nervous systems (SNS) activity, on the relationship between interparental aggression exposure in childhood and adolescence and internalizing psychopathology (anxiety, depression symptoms, and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms) in young adulthood. Participants completed self-report questionnaires regarding youth interparental aggression exposure and current young adult psychopathology. Participants included 188 adults (mean age = 19.45 years old; 72% Caucasian/white; 55% female). Results demonstrate that co-activation of the PNS and SNS in the context of high interparental aggression exposure enhances the relationship between interparental aggression exposure and anxiety in females. Results support previous research and theoretical models and encourage further examination of the interactive relationships between family violence, autonomic nervous system (ANS) functioning, and mental health.