By Staff Writer
A new report that was published in Development and Psychopathology shows that children’s personality traits can determine their chemical response to stress. In the study, researchers put the youths into two categories: doves and hawks. Doves tend to be cautious and submissive when they are in new environments, while hawks are usually bold and assertive in these settings.
During the study, the researchers asked the parents of 201 two-year-olds about their histories of marital aggression. Additionally, they analyzed whether each child could be classified as a hawk or a dove.
These children were then exposed to a stressful situation, such as a simulated argument between their parents. At this time, the researchers found that toddlers who were classified as doves produced higher levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that may increase an individual’s sensitivity to stress.
According to researchers, high cortisol reactivity in doves may make them more prone to anxiety and depression in the future. However, the low cortisol levels in hawks could make them more likely to have attention problems and participate in risky behavior.
Parents who are concerned that their children’s stress levels could lead to future problems may want to consider enrolling them in therapeutic schools.