A three-stage context amplification model was tested with a sample of 345 African-American parent–child dyads. The model combined the conceptual structure of stress generation with recent findings regarding genetic susceptibility. Because the 7R + allele of the dopamine transporter (DRD4) has the potential to enhance contextual priming and arousal, this allele was examined as a potential moderator of each stage of the amplification process. Particular attention was given to the hypothesized influence of parental negative arousal on valence of parent–child interactions. The literature on genetic susceptibility led to the hypothesis that DRD4 would moderate each stage of the model in a “for better or for worse” manner. The model was partially supported. DRD4 moderated effects at all three stages of the model and, as hypothesized, DRD4 moderated contextual effects on negative arousal in a “for better or for worse” manner. Effects on parent–child interaction, however, were moderated in a “for worse” manner only. These results indicate that parenting interactions may amplify the effects of positive and negative contexts in a stress-generating manner, and that a susceptibility framework captures the way in which DRD4 moderates the impact of context on negative arousal.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/carolyn_cutrona/11/