Family Life and Study: Interparental Discord and Child Stress

The primary goal of this study, conducted by Dr. Patricia Pendry and funded by the National Center for Research on Marriage and Families, is to better understand how exposure to interparental conflict in infancy and early childhood is associated with child maladjustment in socioemotional and behavioral domains, with an emphasis on discovering a physiological pathway (e.g., child stress hormone levels, sleep) by which interparental conflict leads to child maladjustment. A second goal is to examine if relatively stable child characteristics (e.g., negative emotionality) can help explain why some children exposed to family conflict are negatively affected, while others are not, or less so. A third goal is to examine if young children exhibit differential physiological reactions to witnessing interparental discord based on the nature of parental disagreement (e.g., content, style). This study is funded by the National Center for Research on Marriage and Families.