Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Development and Family Studies


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Elizabeth A. Shirtcliff


Cortisol patterns differ across both socioeconomic status and racial minority groups. Yet, whether the underlying constructs that are used to measure socioeconomic status impacts the output of cortisol differentially across racial groups is unclear. Using a secondary data analysis from the Parents Who Care longitudinal study, which integrated the biomarker cortisol as youth entered emerging adulthood, the goal of this thesis is to parse apart the common conflation of income and education into a single catchall variable.

The following data was collected in 2 waves from a group of youth who were (M=20.24; R=18.51-22.89) years of age and again approximately two years later (M=22.05; R=20.45-23.87). Data used in this study was pulled from self-reports of educational level, youth income, and household income collected from youth in both waves.

Results showed a main effect of household income (β = .142 p = .017) and a race effect on the diurnal slope of cortisol (β = .041 p <.001). For the longitudinal trajectory there was a significant effect of household income (β = -.226 p < .005). Youth income showed a significant effect on of diurnal cortisol (β = .010 p = .025) as well as an interaction of income and race on diurnal cortisol (β = -.013 p =.039).

Our findings suggest that it is not only race or income alone that influences cortisol, but instead an interaction between the two that also influences waking cortisol and its diurnal slope. Furthermore, these patterns can differ between White and Black youth not only depending on their income or racial group but also on longitudinal changes of income and education over time.

Copyright Owner

Shannin Nicole Moody



File Format


File Size

104 pages