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Psychol Bull. 1994 Nov;116(3):387-411.

Marital conflict and child adjustment: an emotional security hypothesis.

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Department of Psychology, West Virginia University, Morgantown 26506-6040.


An emotional security hypothesis that builds on attachment theory is proposed to account for recent empirical findings on the impact of marital conflict on children and to provide directions for future research. Children's concerns about emotional security play a role in their regulation of emotional arousal and organization and in their motivation to respond in the face of marital conflict. Over time these response processes and internalized representations of parental relations that develop have implications for children's long-term adjustment. Emotional security is seen as a product of past experiences with marital conflict and as a primary influence on future responding. The impact and interaction of other experiential histories within the family that affect children's emotional security are also examined, with a focus on parent-child relations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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