When is mood reactivity in children a good thing? Adaptive effects of mood reactivity to disruptive behavior

Herres, Joanna
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University of Delaware
The goal of this study was to examine between student differences in mood reactivity to three types of negative events during the school day: disruptive behavior, peer victimization, and academic stress in a sample of 233 fourth and fifth grade children. We hypothesized that mood reactivity to disruptive behavior would have adaptive consequences in reducing future disruptive behavior. Conversely, mood reactivity to disruptive behavior, victimization, and academic stress was expected to increase vulnerability for future depressive symptoms. The results show differential patterns of moderation and outcome for the three types of reactivity. Students with high levels of anxiety/sadness were more reactive to daily fluctuations in disruptive behavior, whereas more disruptive students were less reactive to disruptive behavior. Students’ emotional reactivity to their disruptive behavior was also associated with less future disruptive behavior. The results suggest that mood reactivity to disruptive behavior may have a positive impact on child adjustment.