Date of Award

Summer 2008

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Grych, John H.

Second Advisor

Gerdes, Alyson

Third Advisor

de St. Aubin, Ed.


Emotion regulation is a central process for nearly every aspect of human functioning. It is instrumental for attending to, interpreting, understanding, and assigning meaning to events, whether they are common occurrences, or once in a lifetime events. Emotion regulation is the process that modulates the emotions that are constantly in flux; it plays an equally critical role in the way people cope with distressing experiences and the way we experience the happiest, most shining moments of their lives. Because the regulation of emotions is central to such a breadth of human lives, it is easy to understand why emotion regulation has received considerable attention in the research literature as an important individual, developmental and clinical process. Emotion regulation has important clinical implications. The ways in which children learn to manage their emotions shapes their psychological functioning, such as externalizing problems (Eisenberg et al., 2003; 2005) and internalizing problems (Eisenberg et al., 2001a). Children's emotion regulation capacity also has important developmental and social implications, including the development of empathy and prosocial behavior (Valiente et al., 2004), peer relationships (Davidov & Grusec, 2006), and peer victimization (Hanish et al., 2004). Given the implications that emotion regulation has for our emotional and psychological well-being, there is good reason to devote considerable resources to understanding how adaptive emotion regulation functioning develops and what factors facilitate its' growth. Early conceptualizations of emotion regulation emphasized individual characteristics such as temperament and personality as core factors in its development (for a review, see Fox, 1994). Thus, a driving assumption was that emotion regulation was a trait-like construct and research frequently ignored other processes involved in its development. More recently, emotion regulation research has broadened to recognize a variety of environmental factors that are formative influences on children's emotion regulation capabilities. Of the environmental variables, parent-child processes have received the most attention. Consistent with much parenting research, father influences have been widely overlooked and when studied, fathers and mothers have been examined in separate statistical analyses. This approach reflects a critical limitation because it inaccurately compartmentalizes parenting processes in children's lives. In addition, the focus on dyadic analyses of parent-child processes ignores other family factors, family members, or the relative influences of these family variables on children's emotion regulation...



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