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Patterns of Adolescent Regulatory Responses During Family Conflict and Mental Health Trajectories

Journal of Research on Adolescence

Published online on


Four distinct patterns of adolescents' behavioral, emotional, and physiological responses to family conflict were identified during mother–father–adolescent (M = 13.08 years) interactions. Most youth displayed adaptively regulated patterns comprised of low overt and subjective distress. Under‐controlled adolescents exhibited elevated observable and subjective anger. Over‐controlled adolescents were withdrawn and reported heightened subjective distress. Physiologically reactive adolescents had elevated cortisol coupled with low overt and subjective distress. Regulation patterns were associated with unique mental health trajectories. Under‐controlled adolescents had elevated conduct and peer problems whereas over‐controlled adolescents had higher anxiety and depressive symptoms. Physiologically reactive adolescents had low concurrent, but increasing levels of depressive, anxiety, and peer problem symptoms. Findings underscore the importance of examining organizations of regulatory strategies in contributing to adolescent mental health.