Children"s perceptions of marital conflict, parent-child relations and anxiety in children: a proposed systemic model

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Wendy K. Silverman

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

William Kurtines

Third Advisor's Name

Gordon Finley

Date of Defense



Few studies have examined the effects of a divorce on internalizing symptomatology in children, and none have done so in a clinic sample. The present study examined this issue in a clinic sample of children with anxiety disorders (aged 6-16). Because past research has found that it is not divorce but the child’s perspective of marital conflict that is the crucial factor in examining negative outcomes, it was hypothesized that children who reported worry about marital conflict would show greater internalizing symptomatology than those who reported no worries, regardless of whether they came from intact or divorced homes. Internalized symptomatology was operationalized by children’s scores on anxiety and depression scales, as well as the number and severity of clinical diagnoses. Results revealed that worriers had significantly higher levels of anxiety than non-worriers. They were also elevated in depression. The results did not support the hypothesis that worriers from divorced homes would show the most severe internalizing symptomatology. Results are discussed in terms of the marital conflict and the childhood anxiety literature.



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