Parenting and cortisol in infancy interactively predict conduct problems and callous-unemotional behaviors in childhood
Wagner, N. J., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Willoughby, M. T., Cox, M. J., & Family Life Project Key Investigators (2017). Parenting and cortisol in infancy interactively predict conduct problems and callous-unemotional behaviors in childhood. Child Development. DOI: 10.1111/cdev.12900
This study examines observed maternal sensitivity, harsh-intrusion, and mental-state talk in infancy as predictors of conduct problems (CP) and callous-unemotional (CU) behaviors in middle childhood, as well as the extent to which infants' resting cortisol and cortisol reactivity moderate these associations. Using data from the Family Life Project (n = 1,292), results indicate that maternal sensitivity at 6 months predicts fewer CP at first grade, but only for infants who demonstrate high levels of cortisol reactivity. Maternal harsh intrusion predicts fewer empathic-prosocial behaviors, a component of CU behaviors, but only for infants who demonstrate high resting cortisol. Findings are discussed in the context of diathesis-stress and differential susceptibility models.