Parental Emotional Support and Social Buffering in Previously Institutionalized and Typically Developing Children and Adolescents
cortisol, post-institutionalized, social buffering
The current study tested the hypothesis that variation in parental emotional support explains differences in cortisol reactivity among 159 youth, including both previously institutionalized (PI; N = 78) and non‐adopted (NA; N = 81) children (ages 9–10) and adolescents (ages 15–16). Youth participated in a Modified Trier Social Stress Test after a period of preparation with either their parent or a supportive stranger. Saliva samples were collected to derive a measure of cortisol reactivity. Our findings revealed that parents buffered the cortisol stress response for PI children and adolescents only if they were high on emotional support. Our results also suggest that simply preparing with a parent might buffer the stress response for NA children; for NA adolescents, however, only emotionally supportive parents significantly buffered their adolescents’ stress.