Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Erin Tully


The present study examined associations between both children’s physiological regulation capacity and regulation when discussing disappointing a parent and children’s trait-like adaptive and maladaptive guilt. High-frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV) was calculated from electrocardiograms of children (N = 104, Age Mean = 9.12, SD = 1.10 years) at rest (regulation capacity) and during the parent-child disappointed discussion. Children’s trait-like maladaptive (child-report) and adaptive (parent-report) guilt were measured with behavioral rating scales. Children’s regulation capacity was unrelated to guilt. Children’s discussion regulation had a significant negative accelerating quadratic relationship with children’s maladaptive guilt wherein for children with below average HF-HRV there was no significant association between HF-HRV and guilt, and for children with above average HF-HRV higher levels of HF-HRV were associated with lower maladaptive guilt. Children with high regulated engagement may have lower levels of maladaptive guilt as they can flexibly engage with others’ emotions without becoming over-aroused or withdrawing.

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