Associations between predictors of family risk (e.g., interparental conflict) and children's emotional and behavioral dysregulation are well documented (Cummings & Davies, 1994; Emery, 1982; Grych & Fincham, 1990). A central aim of the developmental psychopathology framework is to articulate the processes underlying such associations and how these relations over time are related to the development of psychopathology (Cummings, Davies, & Campbell, 2000). Developmental psychopathology emphasizes process-oriented research concerned with identifying specific responses and patterns of behaviors underlying development, paying particular attention to how these responses and patterns change in different contexts over time. Working from a developmental psychopathology perspective, this chapter examines children's regulatory processes in response to exposure to different forms of marital conflict, as well as the relations of these regulatory responses to their broader adjustment. Specifically, this chapter integrates social (i.e., marital conflict) and regulatory (i.e., children's emotional and behavioral responses to marital conflict) processes to advance understanding of the relationships between children's regulatory expressions in these contexts and their overall adjustment.
INTERPARENTAL CONFLICT AS A FAMILY RISK FACTOR
Exposure to marital conflict is stressful for children (Emery, Fincham, & Cummings, 1992). Children exposed to angry adult interactions display increased arousal and dysregulated behavior (e.g., Cummings, Iannotti, & Zahn-Waxler, 1985; Cummings, Zahn-Waxler, & Radke-Yarrow, 1981). In this context, children report feelings of negative emotions, such as anger and fear (e.g., Goeke-Morey, Cummings, Harold, & Shelton, 2003).