Gastvortrag Empathic Stress in the Family System mit Jost Blasberg, Uni Jena

Datum: 10. Juli 2024Zeit: 16:15 – 17:45Ort: Nägelsbachstr. 49b, R. 02.219, 91052 Erlangen

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Relationship closeness determines the propensity to spontaneously reproduce another’s emotional and physiological stress response. Because the family system subsumes some of the closest relationships experienced across our lifetime, we investigated whether (1) acute psychosocial stress in mothers is causally linked to an empathic stress response in 8-12 year old children and (2) tried to broaden previous findings to the father-child dyad and to adolescent children aged 13-16 years old.
In the first study, mothers (N = 76) completed either a standardized laboratory stressor or a stress-free control task, while their middle childhood-aged children were watching. Mother–child dyads simultaneously provided multiple cortisol, heart-rate, high-frequency heart-rate variability (HF-HRV), and subjective stress samples. We found that stress-group children had a greater propensity to show physiologically significant cortisol release, especially boys. Watching stressed mothers also triggered stronger subjective, state empathy, and HF-HRV stress responses, with the latter relying on elevated trait cognitive empathy ratings. Only in the stressed dyads, children’s HF-HRV resonated with those of their mothers’. We conclude that young children, although only mildly stressed, spontaneously reproduce maternal stress.
In the second study, either mothers (N = 41) or fathers (N = 36) completed a standardized laboratory stressor while their 13-16 year old children were watching. The same stress markers as in study 1 were simultaneously sampled in both parents and children. Because at this time, data post processing has not been finalized, results will hopefully be presentable at the presentation.

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10. Juli 2024
16:15 – 17:45

Nägelsbachstr. 49b, R. 02.219, 91052 Erlangen