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J Fam Psychol. 2007 Jun;21(2):248-58.

Emotional expression in the family as a context for children's appraisals of interparental conflict.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881, USA. gregory.fosco@marquette.edu


The cognitive contextual framework proposes that the emotional climate in the family plays a role in shaping how children perceive and evaluate interparental conflict. This hypothesis was tested in a sample of 144 8- to 12-year-old children and their parents. Children in families that expressed high levels of negative affect and low levels of positive affect reported greater self-blame for conflict, but parents' expressiveness did not predict children's threat appraisals. Positive and negative expressiveness moderated the association between exposure to parental conflict and children's internalizing and externalizing problems. These data suggest that the broader family context can shape the meaning of conflict to children and increase understanding of the conditions under which parental discord leads to child maladjustment.

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