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Journal of Family Psychology - Vol 31, Iss 6

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Journal of Family Psychology The Journal of Family Psychology is devoted to the study of the family system from multiple perspectives and to the application of psychological methods of inquiry to that end.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Unique contributions of dynamic versus global measures of parent–child interaction quality in predicting school adjustment.
    This study investigates the unique contribution of microsocial and global measures of parent–child positive coregulation (PCR) in predicting children’s behavioral and social adjustment in school. Using a community sample of 102 children, ages 4–6, and their parents, we conducted nested path analytic models to identify the unique effects of 2 measures of PCR on school outcomes. Microsocial PCR independently predicted fewer externalizing and inattention/impulsive behaviors in school. Global PCR did not uniquely relate to children’s behavioral and social adjustment outcomes. Household socioeconomic status was related to both microsocial and global measures of PCR, but not directly associated with school outcomes. Findings illustrate the importance of using dynamic measures of PCR based on microsocial coding to further understand how the quality of parent–child interaction is related to children’s self-regulatory and social development during school transition. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Parental involvement as an etiological moderator of middle childhood oppositional defiant disorder.
    The goal of this study was to investigate parental involvement as an etiologic moderator of oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) during middle childhood. Previous studies examining the influence of genetic and environmental factors on ODD have not considered whether and how these factors might vary by parental involvement. We thus conducted a series of “latent genetic by measured environmental” interaction analyses, in which measured parental involvement was allowed to moderate genetic, shared, and nonshared environmental influences on child ODD. Participants include 1,027 twin pairs (age ranged from 6 to 11 years old) from the Michigan State University Twin Registry. Results did indeed suggest that the etiology of ODD varies with maternal involvement, such that genetic influence on ODD became more prominent as maternal involvement decreased. However, these results were specific to children’s perceptions of maternal involvement and did not extend to maternal perceptions of her involvement. There was no evidence that paternal involvement moderated the etiology of ODD, regardless of informant. The different results found in twins’ and parents’ data are consistent with those in previous research showing that children may have different perceptions from parents’ about their family relationships and that this discrepancy needs to be taken into account in future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Parental social coaching promotes adolescent peer acceptance across the middle school transition.
    The present study investigated longitudinal associations between behavioral and cognitive dimensions of parental social coaching (i.e., advice about how to behave or think about peer challenges) and young adolescents’ peer acceptance, and whether such associations are moderated by youths’ social skills. Time 1 (T1) participants included 123 young adolescents (M age = 12.03 years; 50% boys; 58.5% European American). Parents gave open-ended reports about their social coaching to hypothetical peer stress scenarios, which were coded from low to high quality on behavioral and cognitive dimensions. Parents and teachers reported on adolescent prosocial behavior (i.e., social–behavioral skills), and adolescents reported on their social appraisals and social self-efficacy (i.e., social–cognitive skills). At T1 (before the first year of middle school) and Time 2 (approximately 10 months later, after the first year of middle school), parents and teachers rated adolescent peer acceptance. Analyses revealed that parents’ prosocial behavioral advice and benign cognitive framing independently predicted adolescents’ higher peer acceptance prospectively (controlling for earlier levels of peer acceptance). Furthermore, adolescent social skills moderated links between coaching and peer acceptance. Specifically, adolescents with higher, but not lower, social–cognitive skills became more accepted in the context of higher-quality coaching, supporting a “capitalization” pattern, such that these youth may be better able to utilize coaching suggestions. Results underscore the utility of parents’ behavioral advice and cognitive framing for adolescent peer adjustment across the middle school transition and suggest that optimal social-coaching strategies may depend in part on adolescent social skill level. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Parenting stress mediates the association between negative affectivity and harsh parenting: A longitudinal dyadic analysis.
    The current study examined parenting stress (disaggregated into personal distress and child rearing stress) at 12 months postpartum as a mediator of the longitudinal association between parental negative affectivity at 6 months postpartum and harsh parenting at 3 years postpartum for first-time parents with a child transitioning from late toddlerhood to the early preschool years. Analyses were conducted using Mediation for Actor Partner Interdependence Modeling in a sample of 164 couples who participated in a randomized controlled trial of a universal, couple-based transition to parenthood program. There were indirect actor effects of negative affect on a parent’s own harsh parenting through both dimensions of parenting stress, with a stronger mediating effect for personal distress than child rearing stress. There were also indirect partner effects of negative affect on one’s partner’s harsh parenting through the partner’s parenting stress, with a stronger indirect partner effect from mothers’ negative affect to fathers’ harsh parenting than vice versa. Specifically, the mediating effect of personal distress was found for both mothers and fathers, whereas the mediating effect of child rearing stress was found from mothers’ negative affect to fathers’ harsh parenting only. Findings highlight the importance of a dyadic approach in examining the longitudinal association between negative affect and harsh parenting and suggest that reducing parenting stress in the first year postpartum may decrease the risk of future harsh parenting among couples in which one or both partners experience negative affectivity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Harsh parenting, child behavior problems, and the dynamic coupling of parents’ and children’s positive behaviors.
    We examined self-reported maternal and paternal harsh parenting (HP) and its effect on the moment-to-moment dynamic coupling of maternal autonomy support and children’s positive, autonomous behavior. This positive behavior coupling was measured via hidden Markov models as the likelihood of transitions into specific positive dyadic states in real time. We also examined whether positive behavior coupling, in turn, predicted later HP and child behavior problems. Children (N = 96; age = 3.5 years at Time 1) and mothers completed structured clean-up and puzzle tasks in the laboratory. Mothers’ and fathers’ HP was associated with children’s being less likely to respond positively to maternal autonomy support; mothers’ HP was also associated with mothers’ being less likely to respond positively to children’s autonomous behavior. When mothers responded to children’s autonomous behavior with greater autonomy support, children showed fewer externalizing and internalizing problems over time and mothers showed less HP over time. These results were unique to the dynamic coupling of maternal autonomy support and children’s autonomous behavior: The overall amount of these positive behaviors did not similarly predict reduced problems. Findings suggest that HP in the family system compromises the coregulation of positive behavior between mother and child and that improving mothers’ and children’s abilities to respond optimally to one another’s autonomy-supportive behaviors may reduce HP and child behavior problems over time. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Daily interactions with aging parents and adult children: Associations with negative affect and diurnal cortisol.
    Midlife adults report greater investment in their children than in their parents, and these ties have important implications for well-being. To date, little research has addressed daily experiences in these ties. The present study examines daily experiences (negative and positive) with aging parents and adult children and their associations with daily negative affect and diurnal cortisol rhythms. Participants were middle-aged adults (N = 156; 56% women) from Wave 2 of the Family Exchanges Study, conducted in 2013, who completed a 7-day daily diary study, which included assessments of daily negative and positive social encounters and negative affect, and 4 days of saliva collection, which was collected 3 times a day (upon waking, 30 min after waking, and at bedtime) and assayed for cortisol. Multilevel models revealed that individuals were more likely to have contact with adult children than with parents but more likely to have negative experiences (negative interactions, avoidance, negative thoughts) with parents than with adult children. Nevertheless, contact and negative experiences with adult children were more consistently associated with negative affect and daily cortisol patterns than were interactions with parents. Findings are consistent with the intergenerational stake hypothesis, which suggests that individuals have a greater stake in their children than in their parents. Indeed, negative experiences with adult children may be more salient because tensions with adult children occur less frequently than do tensions with parents. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • His, hers, or theirs? Coparenting after the birth of a second child.
    This study examined changes in coparenting after the birth of a second child. Mothers and fathers from 241 2-parent families reported on their spouses’ coparenting cooperation and conflict with their firstborn children before (prenatal) and 4 months after the birth of a second child. Parents completed prenatal questionnaires on their gender-role attitudes, marital satisfaction, and firstborn children’s temperamental characteristics. Parents also reported on their second-born infants’ temperaments at 1 month of age. Coparenting conflict increased across the transition, and cooperation decreased. Couples in which fathers reported greater marital satisfaction were more cooperative 4 months after the second birth. Firstborns’ difficult temperaments contributed to less cooperative coparenting by both parents. When mothers had more traditional gender-role beliefs, fathers engaged in more conflictual coparenting behavior, and when fathers had more traditional gender-role beliefs, mothers engaged in more conflictual coparenting behavior. Mothers, but not fathers, engaged in more coparenting conflict regarding the firstborn when both the firstborn and infant sibling had difficult temperaments. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Standing on shaky ground? Dyadic and longitudinal associations between posttraumatic stress and relationship quality postearthquake.
    In the current study, we took a unique dyadic approach to examine how people’s relationship quality following an earthquake was associated with their and their partner’s posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and whether support exchanges in the relationship protected relationship quality in the face of this adversity. Ninety-nine heterosexual couples were studied over 4 time points for approximately 15 months following the Canterbury, New Zealand, earthquakes. The data were analyzed using moderated growth-curve modeling in an Actor–Partner Interdependence Model framework. In line with predictions, both partners’ PTSS scores were associated with lower relationship quality at Time 1 (the first assessment postearthquake). These associations, however, were attenuated by more frequent provisions of support between relationship partners, especially for men, at least in the short term. The associations, however, changed across time, suggesting that coping in a relationship context post trauma is a dynamic, fluid process. These findings demonstrate the importance of adopting a dyadic perspective and examining effects across time. They also highlight the importance of examining resources within the relationship context to more fully understand how PTSS affects relationships. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Prayer and forgiveness: Beyond relationship quality and extension to marriage.
    The majority of the world population profess religious/spiritual beliefs and prayer is a form of spiritual activity common across numerous religious/spiritual belief systems. Three studies therefore examined the role of prayer in romantic relationships. Study 1 (n = 91) showed that prayer for a dating partner predicted lower aggressive tendencies and greater forgiveness of partner transgressions, independently of relationship closeness. Study 2 (n = 89 married couples) is among the first to examine the prayer–forgiveness association using dyadic data. Controlling for relationship satisfaction in the actor–partner interdependence model, prayer for the spouse predicted own forgiveness but not partner’s reports of their own forgiveness. To obviate the problem of obtaining all the data from the same reporter, Study 3 (n = 91 married couples) used partner reports of the spouse’s forgiveness in an actor–partner interdependence model analysis. Controlling for religiosity, the results showed that prayer for the partner predicted partner reports of the prayer’s forgiveness. The implications of these results are then discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Empathic accuracy and relationship satisfaction: A meta-analytic review.
    Empathic accuracy (EA; Ickes & Hodges, 2013) is the extent to which people accurately perceive their peers’ thoughts, feelings, and other inner mental states. EA has particularly interested researchers in the context of romantic couples. Reviews of the literature suggest a possible link between romantic partners’ EA and their relationship satisfaction (Ickes & Simpson, 2001; Sillars & Scott, 1983). To assess the magnitude of this association and examine possible moderators, we performed a meta-analytic review of 21 studies (total N = 2,739 participants) that examined the association between EA and satisfaction. We limited our review to studies measuring EA using the dyadic interaction paradigm (Ickes, Stinson, Bissonnette, & Garcia, 1990). We found a small but significant association between the two (r = .134, p< .05). Subsequent moderation analyses demonstrated that EA for negative emotions (one’s accuracy when assessing a partner’s negative emotions) was more closely related to satisfaction (r = .171, p <.05) than EA for positive ones (r = .068, p >.1). The association was also stronger in relationships of moderate length, suggesting that EA may be more meaningful when relationships are consolidating but before they become stable. Gender and procedural variations on the dyadic interaction paradigm did not moderate the association, and there was no difference depending on whether the association was between EA and perceivers’ or targets’ satisfaction (i.e., actor or partner effects). We discuss the implications of these findings and offer recommendations for future EA studies. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Communication moderates effects of residential mobility on relationship quality among ethnically diverse couples.
    Although interpersonal communication is a defining feature of committed relationships, the quality of couple communication has not proven to be a straightforward cause of relationship quality. At the same time, emerging models argue that external circumstances likely combine with communication to generate changes in relationship quality. We integrate these 2 ideas by proposing that communication does exert effects on changes in relationship quality, but primarily when couples encounter challenging situations that require an adaptive response. In the present study we examine residential moves to different neighborhoods as one such adaptive challenge. We conducted a longitudinal study of 414 newlywed couples to examine whether observed communication moderates the effect of moving to higher- or lower-income neighborhoods on changes in relationship quality. Results indicate that communication exerts no main effects on relationship quality. Consistent with the proposed model, however, wives who displayed less positive, less effective, and more negative behaviors experienced greater decreases in relationship quality, but only when couples moved to substantially higher-income neighborhoods. Because communication may not affect relationship quality until couples encounter qualitatively new demands, strengthening relationships may pivot less on improving communication skills and more on ensuring that couples’ circumstances do not overwhelm the skills that they already possess. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Family hostility and depressive symptoms in middle-aged couples: Moderating effect of marital integration.
    This study examined (a) the associations between family hostility (husband–wife marital hostility and child hostility) and middle-aged husbands’ and wives’ depressive symptoms over an 11-year time period and (b) the moderating influence of couples’ marital integration on these associations as measured by their joint activity. Higher order family-level latent constructs captured chronic husband–wife (marital) hostility using husbands’ and wives’ reports of chronic hostile interactions from 1990 to 1992, while a higher order latent construct of chronic child hostility toward parents was measured using parental reports of children’s hostile behaviors from 1990 to 1992. Structural equation modeling with data from 370 families depicted the longitudinal impact of family hostility on depressive symptoms of both husbands and wives in 2001 after accounting for earlier levels of depressive symptoms in 1991. Separate models were fit for couples with high and low levels of marital integration. For couples who experienced low levels of marital integration, chronic marital hostility and child hostility were related to depressive symptoms in husbands and wives. However, for those with high marital integration, these influences were largely diminished. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Marital well-being and depression in Chinese marriage: Going beyond satisfaction and ruling out critical confounders.
    Based on data obtained from 203 Chinese couples during the early years of marriage and utilizing the actor–partner interdependence model, this study examined the prospective associations between different aspects of marital well-being (i.e., marital satisfaction, instability, commitment, and closeness) and depressive symptoms (assessed 2 years later) while controlling for critical intrapersonal (i.e., neuroticism and self-esteem) and contextual (i.e., stressful life events) confounders. Results indicated that (a) when considering different aspects of marital well-being as predictors of depressive symptoms separately, each aspect was significantly associated with spouses’ own subsequent depressive symptoms; (b) when examining various aspects of marital well-being simultaneously, only husbands’ commitment, husbands’ instability, and wives’ instability were significantly associated with their own subsequent depressive symptoms above and beyond the other aspects; and (c) the associations between husbands’ commitment, husbands’ instability, and wives’ instability and their own subsequent depressive symptoms remained significant even after controlling for potential major intrapersonal and contextual confounders. Such findings (a) provide evidence that the marital discord model of depression may apply to Chinese couples, (b) highlight the importance of going beyond marital (dis)satisfaction when examining the association between marital well-being and depression, and (c) demonstrate that marital well-being can account for unique variance in depressive symptoms above and beyond an array of intrapersonal and contextual risk factors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Familial risk and sibling mentalization: Links with preschoolers’ internalizing problems.
    The current study explored whether older sibling mentalization moderated the relationship between familial risk for internalizing symptoms and the development of future internalizing problems in the younger siblings, referred to as target children. Data were collected on 397 older siblings at Time 1 (T1) when target children were newborn and their older siblings were on average 2.61 years old (SD = .75). Target children were on average 1.60 years old at Time 2 (T2). Internalizing problems were assessed via mother and partner reports. Familial risk was operationalized as the average of all older siblings’ level of internalizing problems. Older sibling mentalization, indexed by internal state talk and reasoning, was observed and coded during a sibling pretend-play interaction at T2. Results revealed a significant interaction between familial risk of internalizing problems and older siblings’ mentalizing abilities, showing that familial risk was related to target children’s internalizing problems in the absence of sibling mentalization. Familial risk was not associated with target children’s internalizing problems when siblings demonstrated mentalizing abilities. Findings support the need to consider sibling mentalization as a protective factor for children’s internalizing problems. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Sexual orientation and future parenthood in a 2011–2013 nationally representative United States sample.
    Previous researchers have found evidence for differences in parenting goals between lesbian and gay people and their heterosexual peers. However, no previous research has quantified the parenting goals of bisexual people or evaluated parenting goals as a function of sexual partner gender. In addition, political and social climates for sexual minority people had improved rapidly since the last representative data on lesbian and gay peoples’ plans for parenthood were collected. We analyzed data from 3,941 childless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual participants from the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG; United States Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, 2014), a nationally representative sample of United States residents aged 15 to 44 years. We found that statistically significant, within-gender sexual orientation differences in parenting plans persist, despite social and legal changes. Consistent with hypotheses, bisexual men’s parenting desires and intentions were similar to those of their heterosexual male peers and different from those of their gay male peers, while bisexual women’s reports were more mixed. Also consistent with hypotheses, the gender of the most recent sexual partner was a strong predictor of parenting goals. We discuss implications for mental and reproductive health-care providers, attorneys, social workers, and others who interact with sexual minority adults. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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