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01-02-2009 | Uitgave 2/2009

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 2/2009

Threat is a Multidimensional Construct: Exploring the Role of Children’s Threat Appraisals in the Relationship Between Interparental Conflict and Child Adjustment

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 2/2009
Auteurs:
Erin R. Atkinson, Mark R. Dadds, Heather Chipuer, Sharon Dawe

Abstract

Past research has emphasised the importance of children’s appraisals of the threat posed by parent conflict for understanding links between interparental conflict and child outcomes. However, little is known about what it is that children actually find threatening about parent conflict. Children (n = 236) aged 10–16 years were recruited to examine the relative contribution of four specific threat subtypes—fear of parent conflict escalating, fear of being drawn into parent conflict, fear of parent conflict resulting in family breakdown, and fear of parent conflict disrupting parent/child attachment relationships—in explaining links between interparental conflict and child internalising adjustment. Results showed that children’s worries about being drawn into parent conflict mediated the relationship between interparental conflict and child internalising adjustment. Fear of interparental conflict disrupting parent/child attachment bonds mediated the relationship between interparental conflict and child internalising problems for girls, but not boys. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of considering multiple dimensions of threat for advancing understanding of the processes underlying the interparental conflict/child adjustment relationship.

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