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Implicit measures of early-life family conditions : relationships to psychosocial characteristics and cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood Chan, Meanne


An implicit measure of early-life family conditions was created to help address potential biases in responses to self-reported questionnaires of early-life family environments. We investigated whether a computerized affect attribution paradigm designed to capture implicit, affective responses (anger, fear, warmth) regarding early-life family environments was a) stable over time, b) associated with self-reports of childhood family environments, c) able to predict adult psychosocial profiles (perceived social support, heightened vigilance), and d) able to predict adult cardiovascular risk (blood pressure) either alone or in conjunction with a measure of early-life socioeconomic status. Two studies were conducted to examine reliability and validity of the affect attribution paradigm (Study 1, N = 94) and associated adult psychosocial outcomes and cardiovascular risk (Study 2, N = 122). Responses on the affect attribution paradigm showed significant correlations over a 6-month period, and were moderately associated with self-reports of childhood family environments. Greater attributed negative affect about early-life family conditions predicted lower levels of current perceived social support and heightened vigilance in adulthood. Attributed negative affect also interacted with early-life socioeconomic status to marginally predict resting systolic blood pressure, such that those individuals high in early-life SES but who had implicit negative affect attributed to early-life family conditions had SBP levels that were as high as individuals low in early-life SES. Implicit measures of early-life family conditions are a useful approach for assessing the psychosocial nature of early-life environments and linking them to adult psychosocial and physiological health profiles.

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