Cognitive moderators of children's adjustment to stressful divorce events: the role of negative cognitive errors and positive illusions

Child Dev. Jan-Feb 1999;70(1):231-45. doi: 10.1111/1467-8624.00017.


This study examined whether children's cognitive appraisal biases moderate the impact of stressful divorce-related events on psychological adjustment in 355 children ages 9 to 12, whose families had experienced divorce within the past 2 years. Multiple regression indicated that endorsement of negative cognitive errors for hypothetical divorce events moderates the relations between stressful divorce events and self- and maternal reports of internalizing and externalizing symptoms, but only for older children. Positive illusions buffer the effects of stressful divorce events on child-reported depression and mother-reported externalizing problems. Implications of these results for theories of stress and coping, as well as for interventions for children of divorced families, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Divorce / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illusions / psychology*
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*