Personality correlates of physiological response to stress among incarcerated juveniles

Niranjan S. Karnik, Arne Popma, James Blair, Leena Khanzode, Samantha P. Miller, Hans Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: To examine the relationship between personality type and physiological response to stress among juvenile delinquents. Methods: Delinquent males (N = 42, mean age 16.5, SD = 1) recruited from a convenience sample at local juvenile detention facility were compared to a male control sample from a local high school (N = 79; mean age 16.1, SD = 0.8). All participants completed the Weinberger Adjustment Inventory and a Stress-Inducing Speech Task during both of which heart rate was measured. Results: Compared to controls, delinquent youths showed significantly lower heart rates under both free association and stress conditions (p < 0.05) and a lower rate of increase during stressful stimuli (p < 0.05). Among delinquents, those with a non-reactive personality type appeared to show consistently lower levels of physiological arousal as measured by heart rate. Conclusions: Delinquents consistently had lower overall levels of arousal as measured by heart rate. In delinquent boys, we also found a persistently low arousal group with a non-reactive psychological pattern. This combination may be a forerunner of future psychopathy or a product of the developmental trajectory that leads to and results from psychopathic behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-190
Number of pages6
JournalZeitschrift fur Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und Psychotherapie
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Delinquency
  • Personality
  • Psychophysiology
  • Stress response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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