Pathways from marital aggression to infant emotion regulation: The development of withdrawal in infancy

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Esther M. Leerkes, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Associations between marital conflict and infant emotion regulation exist, but explanatory pathways have not been explored. For older children, parental behavior partially mediates this association through a “spillover” process. We test: associations between mothers’ and fathers’ verbally aggressive marital conflict, infant temperament, and infant withdrawal; mediating effects of negative maternal behavior, and moderating effects of infant temperament, exposure to marital arguments, and contact with father. Eighty mothers, 73 fathers, and their 6-month-old infants participated; parents reported marital aggression prenatally, mothers reported infant exposure to arguments, direct caregiving by father, and infant temperament at 5 months. Negative maternal behavior, infant withdrawal, distress to novelty, activity, and look away were observed at 6 months. Mothers’ and fathers’ aggressive marital conflict predicted infant withdrawal, interactively with exposure to marital arguments and extent of father caregiving, as did infant temperament and negative maternal behavior. Maternal behavior did not mediate between marital conflict and withdrawal.

Additional Information

Infant Behavior and Development, 30, 97-113
Language: English
Date: 2007
Family systems, Marital conflict, Emotion regulation, Distress to novelty, Negative maternal behavior, Father caregiving

Email this document to