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Interpersonal Relationships and HealthSocial and Clinical Psychological Mechanisms$
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Christopher R. Agnew and Susan C. South

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199936632

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199936632.001.0001

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Family Relationships and Cortisol in Everyday Life

Family Relationships and Cortisol in Everyday Life

(p.71) Chapter 3 Family Relationships and Cortisol in Everyday Life
Interpersonal Relationships and Health

Richard B. Slatcher

Oxford University Press

A growing body of research shows that people’s family environments have potent effects on the body’s stress physiology. This chapter provides an overview of the links between family relationships in everyday life and cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. Key findings linking marital relationships to cortisol production are reviewed, as well as how family relationships impact children’s cortisol; the chapter focuses primarily on key findings from the past five years. The final section covers cutting-edge work that attempts to answer critical mechanistic questions of how family relationships “get under the skin” to affect cortisol production and, ultimately, physical health. The chapter concludes with a discussion of emerging research that seeks to investigate family relationships, stress physiology, and health outcomes in concert in order to clarify stress–health links.

Keywords:   family, marriage, close relationships, cortisol, HPA, naturalistic observation, health, parent–child interactions

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