Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Science


Vasilenko, Dr. Sara


adolescence, anxiety, depression, early childhood, internalizing behaviors, Interparental conflict

Subject Categories

Developmental Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Research has continually demonstrated a number of adverse externalizing outcomes for children from conflictual families, though the impact of interparental conflict on adolescents' internalizing problems is less well understood. This study utilized longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child-Wellbeing Study, which is a stratified, multistage sample following 4,898 children from low-income families from birth to age 15. Self-report data from both the mothers and focal-teens was utilized to examine the impact of interparental conflict, at age 3, on both anxiety and depressive symptoms, at age 15. Findings indicated that there is a significant relationship between higher frequency of interparental conflict in early childhood and higher levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms in adolescence. A gender moderation analysis was conducted to examine if the effects of interparental conflict were stronger for girls or boys. Aligning with existing research, no significant gender differences were determined. These findings demonstrate that being exposed to interparental conflict, especially from a young age, can threaten one's sense of emotional security and trust as a child, which may result in a higher likelihood of developing anxiety and depression in late adolescence.


Open Access



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