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19-04-2017 | Original Paper | Uitgave 8/2017

Journal of Child and Family Studies 8/2017

Appraisals of Interparental Conflict and Change in Attention to Emotion after Exposure to Marital Conflict

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 8/2017
Rachel G. Lucas-Thompson, Adina Dumitrache, Amy Quinn Sparks
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s10826-017-0721-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


The goal of this study was to investigate whether exposure to marital conflict changes patterns of attention to anger and happiness, as well as whether those patterns vary based on appraisals of the history of interparental conflict in the home. Emerging adults viewed photo pairs with one emotionally-neutral photo and another photo depicting a happy/angry emotional interaction (while a high-speed camera tracked gaze), were randomly assigned to view a neutral or marital conflict recording, viewed neutral-emotional photo pairs again, and then reported their appraisals of their parents’ conflict. Results indicated that feeling threatened by and to blame for parental conflict predicted avoidance of happy emotions at baseline. Although there were no significant changes in attention to emotion overall based on condition, self-blame for interparental conflict predicted greater increases in time spent looking at anger after watching marital conflict (but not after watching the neutral recording). These results indicate that differences in attention to emotion may be one mechanism linking parental conflict to anxiety that could be the focus of prevention/intervention efforts to reduce anxiety symptoms in those from high-conflict homes.

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