Child Regulation and Exposure to Marital Violence

Summary

Principal Investigator: Mona El-Sheikh
Affiliation: College of Veterinary Medicine
Country: USA
Abstract: Research is needed to identify pathways and vulnerability and protective factors in the associations between marital violence, children's emotional and physiological regulation, and child functioning. If conditions and mediating variables that foster child dysfunction were better understood, prevention and remediation could be efficiently targeted at children and families at risk. Long range plans include: (a) explication of developmental trajectories associated with marital violence, children's emotional and physiological regulation, and their adjustment, cognitive functioning, and academic performance within an emotional reactivity and regulation framework; and (b) development and refinement of heuristic theoretical models to guide research, prevention, and intervention in this area. The specific aim is to examine children's emotional and physiological reactivity and regulation as pathways and moderators in the associations between marital psychological aggression and physical violence (collectively referred to as marital aggression) and child outcomes including adjustment, cognitive functioning, and academic performance cross-sectionally and longitudinally. These associations are examined within an integrated conceptual model, namely the emotional security framework (Cummings & Davies, 1996). Three hundred and sixty children, 7-8 years at T1, will be recruited from schools, and will participate in well-established laboratory procedures to examine their cognitive processing, and emotional and physiological reactivity and regulation. Multi-method/dimension assessment of marital psychological abuse and physical violence, emotional and physiological reactivity and regulation, as well as child functioning, are proposed to examine developmental pathways. In a longitudinal design, families will also participate in second (T2), and third (T3) waves of data collection, with a 1-year lag between each data collection wave. General hypotheses are: (1) higher levels of both child emotional reactivity and dysregulation, as well as sympathetic nervous system activity, will be associated with marital aggression, explain unique variance in child outcomes after controlling for the effects of marital aggression, and mediate child problems; and (2) greater vagal regulation will moderate relations between marital aggression and children's adjustment, academic and cognitive performance, and demonstrate a protective function.
Funding Period: 2004-06-01 - 2009-03-31
more information: NIH RePORT

Top Publications

  1. ncbi Marital psychological and physical aggression and children's mental and physical health: direct, mediated, and moderated effects
    Mona El-Sheikh
    Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
    J Consult Clin Psychol 76:138-48. 2008
  2. ncbi Harsh parenting and child externalizing behavior: skin conductance level reactivity as a moderator
    Stephen A Erath
    Department of Human Development and Family Studies, 203 Spidle Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
    Child Dev 80:578-92. 2009

Scientific Experts

  • Stephen A Erath
  • Mona El-Sheikh
  • Chrystyna D Kouros
  • Joseph Buckhalt
  • Lori Elmore-Staton
  • E Mark Cummings

Detail Information

Publications3

  1. ncbi Marital psychological and physical aggression and children's mental and physical health: direct, mediated, and moderated effects
    Mona El-Sheikh
    Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
    J Consult Clin Psychol 76:138-48. 2008
    ..No differences were found in these pathways for African American and European American families or as a function of socioeconomic status or child gender...
  2. ncbi Harsh parenting and child externalizing behavior: skin conductance level reactivity as a moderator
    Stephen A Erath
    Department of Human Development and Family Studies, 203 Spidle Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA
    Child Dev 80:578-92. 2009
    ..SCLR may be a more robust moderator among boys compared to girls. Results are discussed with regard to theories on antisocial behavior and multiple-domain models of child development...