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01-08-2011 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2011

Journal of Child and Family Studies 4/2011

The Effects of Marital Conflict on Korean Children’s Appraisal of Conflict and Psychological Adjustment

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 4/2011
Auteurs:
Kyung Ja Oh, Soojin Lee, Soo Hyun Park

Abstract

This study examined the effects of marital conflict on Korean children’s psychological adjustment and appraisal of hypothetical marital conflict situations. Children between the ages of 10 and 12 were divided into “high-conflict” (n = 58) and “low-conflict” (n = 58) groups based on their self-reported degree of perceived interparental conflict in the home environment. Hypothetical marital conflict situations were provided in cartoon format, and were differentiated based conflict intensity (verbal versus physical aggression) and content (child-related conflict versus non-child-related conflict). In general, children reported greater negative affect and perceived threat to hypothetical conflict situations involving physical aggression compared to situations involving verbal conflict. In child-related conflict situations, children reported more fear of being drawn in and endorsed coping strategies that involved direct intervention. “High-conflict group” children evidenced stronger reactivity in responding to marital conflict situations in general and endorsed indirect intervention strategies—a finding previously not found in similar studies conducted with European-American children—indicating the possibility of cross-cultural difference in coping preferences in interparental conflict situations. Furthermore, “high-conflict group” children manifested more indices of maladjustment as indicated by externalizing and internalizing behavior problems, in addition to more self-reported depressive symptoms. Results highlight the effects of marital conflict on children’s psychological adjustment and indicate the possibility of cross-cultural differences in preferred coping mechanism in interparental conflict situations for Korean children.

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