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Children’s Insecure Representations of the Interparental Relationship and Their School Adjustment: The Mediating Role of Attention Difficulties


  • This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (Project R01 MH57318) awarded to Patrick T. Davies and E. Mark Cummings. We are grateful to the children, parents, teachers, and school administrators who participated in this project. Our appreciation is expressed to project staff, including Courtney Forbes, Courtney Henry, Marcie Goeke-Morey, Amy Keller, Michelle Sutton, Alice Schermerhorn, and the graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Rochester and University of Notre Dame. We would also like to thank Melissa Sturge-Apple for her statistical consultation and expertise.

concerning this article should be addressed to Patrick T. Davies, Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined the role of attention difficulties as a mediator of associations between children’s insecure representations of the interparental relationship and their school adjustment in a sample of two hundred and sixteen 6-year-old children. Consistent with hypotheses, findings from structural equation models indicated that observer ratings of children’s insecure representations of interparental relationships in a story completion task predicted computerized task assessments and parent reports of children’s attention difficulties 1 year later. Children’s attention difficulties, in turn, were associated with concurrent levels of school problems and increases in school problems over a 1-year period as indexed by teacher reports. Attention difficulties accounted for an average of 34% of the association between insecure internal representations and school problems.