Respiratory sinus arrhythmia, shyness, and effortful control in preschool-age children

Michael J. Sulik, Nancy Eisenberg, Kassondra M. Silva, Tracy Spinrad, Anne Kupfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and shyness were examined as predictors of effortful control (EC) in a sample of 101 preschool-age children. Resting RSA was calculated from respiration and heart rate data collected during a neutral film; shyness was measured using parents', preschool teachers', and classroom observers' reports; and EC was measured using four laboratory tasks in addition to questionnaire measures. Principal components analysis was used to create composite measures of EC and shyness. The relation between RSA and EC was moderated by shyness, such that RSA was positively related to EC only for children high in shyness. This interaction suggests that emotional reactivity affects the degree to which RSA can be considered a correlate of EC. This study also draws attention to the need to consider the measurement context when assessing resting psychophysiology measures; shy individuals may not exhibit true baseline RSA responding in an unfamiliar laboratory setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Effortful control
  • Executive function
  • Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA)
  • Shyness
  • Vagal tone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


Dive into the research topics of 'Respiratory sinus arrhythmia, shyness, and effortful control in preschool-age children'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this