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O Children exposed to higher levels of interparental conflict appear to be more sensitive to later parental disagreements o They report greater threat,

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Presentation on theme: "O Children exposed to higher levels of interparental conflict appear to be more sensitive to later parental disagreements o They report greater threat,"— Presentation transcript:

1 o Children exposed to higher levels of interparental conflict appear to be more sensitive to later parental disagreements o They report greater threat, negative affect, and physiological reactivity (e.g., El-Sheikh, et al., 1994; Grych, 1998). o The mechanism underlying this sensitization effect is not clear, but may involve expectations about the course of parental conflicts that children develop from earlier experiences with interparental conflict (e.g., Fosco, DeBoard, & Grych, 2007). o Children who have witnessed intense, poorly resolved disagreements may anticipate that conflict will escalate o Children whose parents typically resolve conflict constructively may expect disagreements to be mild and short-lived. o Children who experience greater threat and self-blame in response to parental discord also may be sensitive to signs of anger and conflict and more likely to anticipate that it will escalate. o There also be an affective basis for sensitization to conflict o Children who are highly distressed by conflict may have more difficulty regulating their affect when parental disagreements occur (Davies & Cummings, 1994). o There may be gender differences in children’s appraisals of interparental conflict o Previous research has shown that girls tend to focus more on the affect expressed during interparental conflict than boys do to help them assess the threat posed by the conflict (Grych, 1998). The goal of this study was to examine whether children’s prior exposure to interparental conflict, appraisals of interparental conflict, and capacity for emotion regulation predict how they respond to a new parental disagreement. Exploring Cognitive and Affective Processes that Underlie Children’s Sensitization to Interparental Conflict Anna J. Kiel and John H. Grych Funding Provided By NIMH# MH Results MethodIntroductionDiscussion Study Goal Sample Participants were year olds from diverse ethnic backgrounds (47% female) Conflict Interaction Task Children viewed a videotaped interaction in which two actors portrayed a parental disagreement. The interaction was shown in 3 segments: (1) the parents begin to discuss an issue and initial signs of disagreement occur (2) the interaction becomes more conflictual and angry, ending with the father walking out of the room (3) the father returns, apologizes to the mother, and the video ends without the viewer knowing if they will resolve the disagreement Coding Children’s Expectation of Conflict Interaction At the end of each video segment, children were asked to describe what they thought would happen next. We coded their expectation for the course of the disagreement as resolving, continuing, or escalating (See Table 1) Assessing Interparental Conflict Children completed the CPIC (Grych et al., 1992) to assess their prior exposure to conflict and their appraisals of threat and self- blame. Parents completed the CPS (Kerig, 1995) to assess interparental conflict in the home. Table 1 Examples of Codes for Outcome Expectations of Videotaped Interaction _________________________________________________________ CodesExamples Resolve“I think next the mom and dad will talk through it and come to an agreement.” “Next, they are going to agree and be done talking about it.” Continue“I think the mom and dad are going to keep arguing like they’re doing now.” “The mom and dad won’t agree on what to do, so they will keep arguing about it.” Escalate“I think the mom and dad are going to start a big fight and they will get divorced.” “The dad is going to throw something and the mom will call the cops.” Emotion Regulation Parents reported on children’s emotion regulation with the ERC (Shields & Cicchetti, 1997). Table 2 Frequencies and Percentages of Girls’ and Boys’ Outcome Expectations After the Three Video Segments ____________________________________________________________________________________ Expectation Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 GirlsBoysGirlsBoysGirlsBoys Resolve3 (5.4%)5 (7.9%)23 (41.4%)27 (42.9%)50 (89.3%)57 (90.5%) Continue50 (89.3%)52 (82.5%)14 (25.0%)18 (28.6%)0 (0.0%)0 (0.0%) Escalate1 (1.8%)4 (6.3%)11 (19.6%)14 (22.2%)0 (0.0%)0 (0.0%) Missing2 (3.6%)2 (3.2%)8 (14.3%)4 (6.3%)6 (10.7%)6 (9.5%) Table 3 Pearson Correlations Between Children’s Expectations After Video Segments 1 and 2, Children’s Ratings of Perceived Threat, Self-Blame, Conflict Properties, Parents’ Ratings of Conflict at Home, and Parents’ Ratings of Emotion Regulation (Girls Above Diagonal, Boys Below Diagonal) _______________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________ 1. Expectation after Segment 1 _ * * 2. Expectation after Segment 2.269*_ Child Rating of Perceived Threat _.329*.609** Child Rating of Self-Blame _.391**.433**.447** 5. Child Rating of Conflict Properties **.369**_.467** Parents’ Rating of Conflict at Home *.564**_.488** 7. Parents’ Rating of Emotion Regulation * _ * p <.05 (2-tailed), **p <.01 (2-tailed) Patterns of associations among variables differed for girls and boys (see Tables 2 and 3). Girls After viewing the first video segment, girls who engaged in more self-blame expected the conflict video to have a better resolution (r = -.33, p <.05). After viewing the first video segment, girls who were rated as having poorer emotion regulation by their parents expected the conflict video to have a better resolution (r = -.33, p <.05). Girls who engaged in more self-blame reported more conflict properties (r =.391, p <.01), their parents reported more interparental conflict (r =.433, p <.01), and they were rated by their parents as having poorer emotion regulation (r =.433, p <.01). Boys After viewing the second video segment, boys who were rated as having poorer emotion regulation by their parents expected the conflict video to have a poorer resolution (r =.315, p <.05). Boys who perceived more threat at home reported more conflict properties at home (r =.363, p <.01). Boys who engaged in more self-blame reported that there were more conflict properties at home (r =.369, p <.01), and their parents reported more interparental conflict (r =.315, p <.05). Selected References Davies, P. & Cummings, E. (1994). Marital conflict and child adjustment: An emotional security hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 116, El-Sheikh, M. (1994). Children’s emotional and physiological responses to interadult angry behavior: The role of history of interparental hostility. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 22, Fosco, G., Deboard, R. & Grych, J. (2007). Making sense of family violence: Implications of children’s appraisals of interparental aggression for their short- and long-term functioning. European Psychologist, 12, Grych, J.H. (1998). Children’s appraisals of interparental conflict: Situational and contextual influences. Journal of Family Psychology, 12, Grych, J.H., Seid, M., & Fincham, F.D. (1992). Assessing Marital Conflict from the Child's Perspective: The Children's Perception of Interparental Conflict Scale. Child Development, 63(3), 558. Kerig, P. K. (1995, March). Assessing the links between marital conflict and child development. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Indianapolis, IN. Shields, A., & Cicchetti, D. (1997). Emotion regulation among school-age children: The development and validation of a new criterion Q-sort scale. Developmental Psychology, 33(6), Girls Girls in this study who engaged in more self-blame experienced more conflict in their homes and were rated as having poorer emotion regulation. It may be that they were used to more intense conflict between parents than they were exposed to in this study. Because the conflict between the parent actors on the video was fairly mild, it may not be eliciting the same kind of expectations about interparental conflict that these girls normally have. This could explain why the girls in this study who engage in more self- blame expected the video conflict to have a better resolution – they did not perceive the disagreement as intense, therefore they did not think it would end poorly. Findings of this study provide further evidence that girls who are exposed to higher levels of conflict in the home have more difficulty regulating their emotions. Boys Boys with poorer emotion regulation in this study expected the video conflict to have a poorer outcome after viewing the most intense segment of the video (segment 2). This means that these boys were more sensitive to the conflict in the video than were the girls with poor emotion regulation, and boys responded to the conflict by expecting it to resolve poorly. It is likely that boys’ prior exposure to interparental conflict was driving their expectations about the outcome of the video conflict. Boys who experienced more conflict at home engaged in more self-blame and were rated as having poorer emotion regulation than boys who experienced less conflict, which supports previous research findings that interparental conflict has negative effects on children’s emotion regulation abilities. Selected References


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