In this study, we sought to expand on what is currently known regarding autonomic nervous system (ANS) reactivity in middle childhood as a function of attachment. ANS activity includes multiple indices–respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) is an index of parasympathetic nervous system activation (PNS) and electrodermal activity (EDA) is an index of sympathetic nervous system activation (SNS). Children (N = 103) completed Child Attachment Interviews and read vignettes describing situations aimed to activate attachment needs (NEED; e.g., getting hurt, which can elicit need for comfort or assistance) and help-seeking (HS; when children experience need and seek comfort from attachment figures), while SNS and PNS reactivity were monitored. Attachment was not associated with children’s SNS or PNS reactivity during NEED, but attachment was associated with physiological reactivity during HS: Dismissing attachment was associated with greater SNS activation (higher EDA) and preoccupied attachment with PNS deactivation (lower RSA, greater vagal withdrawal) during HS.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
- electrodermal activation
- middle childhood
- respiratory sinus arrhythmia