Becker, K.B. (2001). Responses to affective stimuli: A study of children from violent homes. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Arizona, 2001). Dissertation Abstracts International, 62 (6-B), 2971.

Abstract: This study examined youths’ (mean age = 16) responses to videotaped scenes depicting various family exchanges as a function of their exposure to family violence during childhood. Children exposed to family violence (n = 92) and a comparison group of children (n = 31) demographically similar to those in the index group described their family backgrounds and domestic violence experiences during interviews in 1990-91, when the children were between the ages of 6 and 12. Approximately eight years later, these participants viewed film clips depicting family members engaged in hostile, prosocial, and neutral exchanges while a computer monitored their skin conductance responses. Youths also provided self-reports of their emotions and arousal after watching these scenes. Analyses of self-reported emotions failed to yield differences based on family violence background. Analyses of skin conductance responses, however, indicated that males and females exposed to family violence during childhood responded to the films in divergent ways, and these responses usually differed from those of youths in the comparison group. Specifically, males from originally violent homes displayed physiological overarousal, whereas females evinced physiological underarousal. These findings provide evidence for the potentially long-term effects of family violence as well as sex differences in responding to family violence. Results are discussed in light of the literature on the sensitization effects of family conflict. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2004 APA, all rights reserved)