Date of Award

Spring 2005

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Grych, John H.

Second Advisor

Aubin, Ed de St.

Third Advisor

Wierzbicki, Michael

Abstract

The objective of the current project was to evaluate the mechanisms underlying the process by which interparental conflict leads to increased child maladjustment, particularly with regard to the potential mediating effects of children's appraisals and emotions. Participants included 137 children (72 females, 65 males) with a mean age of 10.68 years from several elementary schools in the Milwaukee area. The children, who were predominantly middle class and of diverse ethnic backgrounds, completed surveys which evaluated the level of marital conflict in the home, children's appraisals of this conflict, children's emotional reactions to conflict, and internalizing dispositions (i.e., anxious and depressed feelings). Results revealed some support for hypotheses predicting that specific appraisals may be related to specific emotions, and that these pathways may be related to certain adjustment patterns. Findings indicate that when children felt threatened by parental conflict, they also felt worried and demonstrated anxious symptoms. However, contrary to hypotheses, when children blamed themselves for marital conflict, they felt both worried and sad, and acknowledged both anxious and depressed feelings. Results support previous research implicating children's appraisals as mediators of the association between interparental conflict and children's adjustment, and partially support prior research implicating links between specific appraisals, emotions, and adjustment outcomes. Potential explanations for these findings and are discussed.

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