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J Fam Psychol. 2001 Jun;15(2):163-82.

The role of specific emotions in children's responses to interparental conflict: a test of the model.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, John Dewey Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont 05405-0134, USA.


Mothers, fathers, and their 6-year-old children (N = 164) participated in a study testing key tenets of the specific emotions model of marital conflict. Parents reported their marital conflict strategies, were observed interacting with their children, and rated children's behavioral adjustment. Children reported their emotional reactions to specific interparental conflicts. Results support the specific emotions model. Children's behaviors mirrored the marital or parental behaviors of same-gender parents. Indirect effects of marital aggression through parental behavior were detected, and marital and parental behaviors interacted to predict girls' externalizing. Girls' anger, sadness, and fear increased with fathers' marital aggression. Fear and the anger by fear interaction predicted girls' internalizing. Fathers' marital aggression interacted with anger to predict externalizing and interacted with fear to predict internalizing behavior in boys.

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