RSA reactivity in response to viewing bullying film and adolescent social adjustment

Lixian Cui, Xutong Zhang, Benjamin J. Houltberg, Michael M. Criss, Amanda S. Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This study assessed adolescent respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) reactivity while watching a bullying film clip from Boyz'n the Hood. We emphasized the importance of considering measurement context of RSA and examined whether RSA reactivity moderated the links between environmental factors (i.e., neighborhood violence, parental psychological control, and parental acceptance) and adolescent social adjustment. Data were collected from 57 adolescents and their primary caregivers. Electrocardiogram (ECG) and respiration data were obtained from adolescents. Results indicated that neighborhood violence was positively associated with aggressive behavior but only among adolescents showing RSA augmentation, not suppression. Among youth displaying RSA suppression, parental acceptance was positively linked to prosocial behavior. We propose that, in the specific context of watching a bullying film clip, RSA suppression may relate to physiological regulation of emotion, which may differentially influence adolescents' responses to socialization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-604
Number of pages13
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2019


  • RSA reactivity
  • adolescence
  • aggressive behavior
  • neighborhood violence
  • parenting
  • prosocial behavior


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