Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology



First Advisor

Lauri A Jensen-Campbell


Prior research has documented long-term detrimental effects (e.g. emotional distress, anxiety, and depression; Kochenderfer-Ladd & Wardrop, 2001) experienced as a result of being bullied as an adolescent. Although being a recipient of chronic peer victimization is clearly related to a myriad of psychological problems, not all bullied children react to these experiences in the same way. That is, some children may be more predisposed to internalizing problems, specifically depression, when bullied than are other children. This study examined the influence of genetic polymorphism in the serotonin transport gene (5HTTLPR) on the victimization-depression link. A total of 125 adolescents (Mage = 12.35) took part in this study. For adolescents with the S-S or S-L variant, victimization was positively related to depression. No relationship between victimization and depression was found for children with the l-l variant. Additionally, there was a sex X 5HTTLPR X victimization interaction for overall daily cortisol, waking cortisol, and the cortisol awakening response (CAR). Peer victimization was not related to waking cortisol in boys with the s-s variant. For girls with the s-s variant peer victimization was related to lower levels of waking cortisol. Victimized boys with the s-s variant had a positive CAR; conversely, victimized girls with the s-s variant had a flattened CAR. There was no relationship between victimization and CAR for the s-l or l-l variant adolescents. These findings suggest that the associations between victimization, neuroendocrine functioning, and depression is strongest for children who are at greater risk for developing internalizing problems (i.e., for children with at least one s-variant of 5HTTLPR).


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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