Parenting Style and Adolescent Externalizing Behaviors: The Moderating Role of Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia


adolescents, differential susceptibility, parenting style, respiratory sinus arrhythmia


This longitudinal study was conducted with 262 adolescents (M age = 15.3) and their parents to examine adolescent respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA; baseline and reactivity) as a moderator of the relationship between parenting style and adolescent externalizing behaviors. This was conceptualized within the differential susceptibility to the environment framework, which proposes that children with greater sensitivity to environmental influences benefit more from supportive environments but are at greater risk in averse environments. In this study, low RSA baseline was associated with greater susceptibility. In confirmation of hypotheses, males with low RSA baseline had the most externalizing behaviors when mother or father authoritative parenting was low or when mother authoritarian parenting was high. Contrary to hypotheses, females with greater RSA reactivity (high susceptibility) did more poorly when authoritarian parenting was low or authoritative parenting was high. Differential gender socialization and the task used to elicit RSA reactivity are suggested reasons for gender differences.

Original Publication Citation

Dyer, W. J., *Blocker, D., Day, R. D., & Bean, R. A. (2016). Parenting style and adolescent externalizing behaviors: The moderating role of respiratory sinus arrhythmia. Journal of Marriage and Family, 78(4), 1149-1165.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of Marriage and Family




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor