ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2015, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (4): 591-601.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2015.00591

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The Relations between Diurnal Cortisol and Children’s Psychosocial Factors and Problem Behaviors

NIE Ruihong1; XU Ying2; HAN Zhuo1   

  1. (1 Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China) (2 Quanzhou Preschool Education College, Quanzhou, Fujian 362000, China)
  • Received:2014-07-22 Online:2015-04-15 Published:2015-04-15
  • Contact: HAN Zhuo, E-mail:


Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis is considered to be a major neuroendocrine system related to physiological responses to stress. Cortisol, an end product of HPA axis, is often used as one of the biological indexes to reflect individuals’ stress levels. Previous studies have mostly employed diurnal cortisol to reflect the characteristics of HPA activity, and diurnal cortisol has become one of the best indexes to evaluate children’s physical health due to its stability and reliability. Because of children’s rapid development in the early stages of their life, the secretion of cortisol not only interacts with children’s behaviors but it is also influenced by a variety of psychological and social factors. Past research has mainly focused on the relations between diurnal cortisol patterns and children’s problem behaviors or psychosocial factors. Future studies should consider the risk and protective factors in child development and explore the endocrinal mechanisms concerning how environment can influence children’s behaviors.

Key words: child, salivary cortisol, diurnal rhythm, problem behaviors, psychosocial factors