Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 72 pages) : illustrations.

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Elana B. Gordis

Committee Members

Betty Lin, Drew Anderson


Mindfulness (Psychology), Stress in youth, Families, Autonomic nervous system, Sympathetic nervous system, Parasympathetic nervous system

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


Adverse childhood experiences, such as interparental conflict exposure, have long-term negative effects across various domains, including psychological and physiological health. Research reveals a link between interparental conflict and coordination between stress response systems, specifically sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems (SNS and PNS, respectively). Despite this knowledge, much less is known about potential protective factors or intervention strategies within this area. Mindfulness interventions have been found to be useful in the treatment of psychological and physical problems, including PTSD and stress-related diseases. The present study examined the effect of a mindfulness intervention on coordination between PNS, as measured by respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), and SNS, as measured by skin conductance levels (SCL). Furthermore, this study aimed to examine whether a mindfulness intervention influences this physiological coordination differently depending on level of interparental conflict exposure (ICE). Results indicate that the mindfulness intervention did not alter state mindfulness levels; however, there was a significant three-way interaction between intervention assignment, ICE, and change in SCL predicting change in RSA. Probing this interaction revealed a significant and negative relationship between RSA and SCL (i.e., reciprocal activation) at conditional values representing relative low levels of ICE and representing the mindfulness condition. A similar significant negative relationship was found at values indicating relatively high ICE and values indicating the control condition. Exploratory analyses examined the relationship between ICE and SCL/RSA coordination in a neutral state on trait mindfulness. There was a significant three-way interaction between ICE, SCL, and RSA which significantly accounted for trait mindfulness. Follow-up probes reveal a significant relationship between ICE and trait mindfulness at high levels of SCL and low levels of RSA (indicating reciprocal sympathetic activation), such that those with high levels of ICE and exhibiting this pattern of coordination tended to have less trait mindfulness. Limitations and clinical implications of this study are also discussed.