Children's Autonomic Nervous System Activity While Transgressing: Relations to Guilt Feelings and Aggression

Colasante, Tyler and Zuffianò, Antonio and Haley, David and Malti, Tina (2018) Children's Autonomic Nervous System Activity While Transgressing: Relations to Guilt Feelings and Aggression. Developmental Psychology, 54 (9). pp. 1621-1633. ISSN 0012-1649 (Accepted for Publication)

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Despite the well-established protective functions of guilt across childhood, its underlying physiological mechanisms have received little attention. We used latent difference scores to model changes in children’s (N = 267 4- and 8-year-olds, 51% girls) skin conductance and respiratory sinus arrhythmia while they imagined themselves committing antisocial acts. We then tested if their later reports of guilt, caregiver-reported aggressive behavior, and age were associated with these physiological changes. For 8-year-olds, changes in respiratory sinus arrhythmia leading up to and during transgressions were uniquely associated with the intensity of guilt feelings after transgressions. Eight-year-olds with higher guilt were rated lower in aggression, although children’s physiology and aggression were not directly related. We discuss how fluctuations in physiology while transgressing may prepare children to mount adaptive guilt responses afterward and—more broadly—implications for understanding the mechanisms behind guilt and related behavior in early and middle childhood.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: © 2018, American Psychological Association. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the final, authoritative version of the article. Please do not copy or cite without authors permission. The final article will be available, upon publication, via its DOI: 10.1037/dev0000500
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Psychology
Depositing User: Antonio Zuffiano
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2018 16:07
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2020 11:00

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