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Psychol Bull. 1990 Sep;108(2):267-90.

Marital conflict and children's adjustment: a cognitive-contextual framework.

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Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Champaign 61820.


Marital problems have been related to numerous indexes of maladjustment in children. Although several parameters of this association have been identified, the process by which exposure to interparental conflict gives rise to adjustment problems in children is largely unexplored. Research on the link between marital conflict and child maladjustment therefore is critically evaluated, and a framework is presented that organizes existing studies and suggests directions for future research on processes that may account for the association. According to the framework, the impact of marital conflict is mediated by children's understanding of the conflict, which is shaped by contextual, cognitive, and developmental factors. The implications of the framework for children's adjustment are discussed.

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