Early intervention programs aimed at preventing emotional behavioral disorders usually implement ‗best practices‘ interventions without regard to individual differences between children. Psychopathology theories such as Gray‘s motivational theory (Beauchaine, 2001; 2001b) and callous unemotional trait theory (Loney et al., 2003) have been supported by basic research showing links between individual differences in problem behavior and arousal and emotional reactivity measured via psychophysiology measures as well as rating scales (Eisenberg et al., 2001). However, no studies have directly examined the role that individual differences in multiple physiological systems play in moderating children‘s reponse to interventions in a school setting. This study used in situ behavioral observation counts of disruptive behavior in a therapeutic preschool program as a dependent variable to examine the effects of a relaxation intervention and a social problem solving intervention in a cross-over design with N=32 participants. Prior to the start of interventions, the children were measured for heart rate variability (HRV) and heart rate (HR) during calm and emotionally charged videos. Salivary cortisol, a stress hormone, was measured at three time points during the study to examine basal stress levels. Principal components analysis was used to combine the physiological measures with rating scales measuring internalizing, externalizing behavior traits, reactive and proactive aggression and anxiety. Linear Mixed Models regression was used to examine the effects of the generated factors on treatment response. Results showed a significant treatment effect for the social problem solving intervention but no moderator effects.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. disseration. December 2007. Major: Educational Psychology. Advisors: Frank Symons. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 126 pages, appendices A-L.
Hoch, John D..
The role of emotion and stress in predicting response to relaxation and social skills interventions in an early childhood therapeutic preschool program..
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