The role of emotional responses and physiological reactivity in the marital conflict–child functioning link
Version of Record online: 17 OCT 2005
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 46, Issue 11, pages 1191–1199, November 2005
How to Cite
El-Sheikh, M. (2005), The role of emotional responses and physiological reactivity in the marital conflict–child functioning link. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46: 1191–1199. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.00418.x
- Issue online: 17 OCT 2005
- Version of Record online: 17 OCT 2005
- Manuscript accepted 8 September 2004
- Marital conflict;
- physiological reactivity;
- child adjustment;
- skin conductance;
- emotional responses
Background: Children's emotional responses and physiological reactivity to conflict were examined as mediators and moderators in the associations between exposure to parental marital conflict and child adjustment and cognitive problems.
Method: One hundred and eighty elementary school children participated. In response to a simulated argument, children's skin conductance level reactivity (SCLR) was examined, and their emotional responses (reported and observed anger, sadness, and fear) were assessed.
Results: A higher level of SCLR was a robust risk factor for various child outcomes, mediated boys’ internalizing difficulties in the marital conflict–child functioning link, and functioned as a vulnerability factor for girls’ externalizing, internalizing, and cognitive problems. Increased anger (for boys) and sadness (for girls) exacerbated adjustment difficulties related to marital conflict.
Conclusions: Findings illustrate the aggregation of risk in relation to child and family characteristics.