Emotionality and self-regulation, threat appraisal, and coping in children of divorce

Dev Psychopathol. Winter 1999;11(1):15-37. doi: 10.1017/s0954579499001935.


A model of the effects of children's temperament (negative and positive emotionality, impulsivity and attention focusing) on post-divorce threat appraisals, coping (active and avoidant), and psychological symptoms (depression and conduct problems) was investigated. The study utilized a sample of 223 mothers and children (ages 9 to 12 years) who had experienced divorce within the last two years. Evidence was found of direct effects of child-report negative emotionality on children's threat perceptions and of child-report positive emotionality and impulsivity on children's coping. Indirect effects of negative emotionality on active and avoidant coping through threat appraisal were found. Direct effects of the temperament variables on symptoms were also found. Cross group analyses indicated that the models were robust to age differences, but gender differences were found in the relation between negative emotionality and depression. The results of this study indicate that temperament and threat appraisals are important predictors of children's post-divorce symptoms, and that temperament is a predictor of children's appraisal and coping process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Defense Mechanisms*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Divorce / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Male
  • Personality Assessment
  • Personality Development
  • Temperament