Interparental conflict and children’s mental health: Emerging directions in emotional security theory

E. Mark CUMMINGS, Kalsea J. KOSS, Yuen Man Rebecca CHEUNG

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapters

Abstract

Interparental conflict characterized by anger, aggression, and hostility puts children at risk for developing a host of negative mental health outcomes. This chapter provides an overview of a prevailing theoretical model, emotional security theory (EST), for understanding the processes underlying the association between marital conflict and child adjustment. In the face of marital discord, children are motivated to preserve and restore their sense of security in the family. The present chapter discusses current research examining the long-term impact of insecurity on child adjustment as well as the psychological and physiological indicators of children’s insecurity about the marital relationship. Additionally, this chapter highlights current research directions in EST and illustrates the role of children’s security in broader contexts, including broader family functioning (e.g., parental depressive symptoms) and sociocultural contexts (e.g., political violence). Copyright © 2014 Oxford University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterpersonal relationships and health: Social and clinical psychological mechanisms
EditorsChristopher R. AGNEW, Susan C. SOUTH
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages179-201
ISBN (Print)9780199936632, 0199936633
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Citation

Cummings, E. M., Koss, K. J., & Cheung, R. Y. M. (2014). Interparental conflict and children’s mental health: Emerging directions in emotional security theory. In C. R. Agnew & S. C. South (Eds.), Interpersonal relationships and health: Social and clinical psychological mechanisms (pp. 179-201). New York: Oxford University Press.

Keywords

  • Marital conflict
  • Emotional security theory
  • EST
  • Child adjustment
  • Mental health
  • Regulatory processes
  • Family process
  • Political violence

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