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Emotionality and internalizing symptoms in families: Concurrent and longitudinal associations with maternal emotion socialization


Emotionality and internalizing symptoms in families: Concurrent and longitudinal associations with maternal emotion socialization

Briscoe, Ciara (2017) Emotionality and internalizing symptoms in families: Concurrent and longitudinal associations with maternal emotion socialization. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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In a series of three studies, the present dissertation was designed to examine the stability of childhood positive emotionality (PE) and negative emotionality (NE) and its relation to child internalizing symptoms. In examining these questions through a developmental psychopathology lens, parent-level factors were included and explored. Parent variables comprised not only emotional well-being, but also emotion socialization strategies: specifically, the way mothers respond to their child’s emotions. These maternal responses were explored as a potential pathway by which mothers may reinforce the link between their own emotional well-being and that of their children.
The participants of the present study, both male and female, were originally recruited for the Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project in 1976. Approximately 20 years later, original participants and their preschool-aged children (n = 175) were followed, for an additional three time points at approximately 3 year intervals, into adolescence. Maternal emotion socialization, specifically contingencies to their child’s emotions, was measured via questionnaires for negative emotions and via at-home observations for positive emotions. Generally, contingencies were grouped into responses that were supportive (i.e., acknowledging and helping the child through their emotional experience) or nonsupportive (i.e., ignoring, invalidating or punishing the child through their emotional experience).
Results from Study 1 suggested that child NE and child internalizing symptoms are relatively stable and associated with each other. Similarly, parental NE and depression symptoms were associated with child emotional well-being, although the specific relations differed depending on whether the factors were maternal or paternal. Results from Study 2 provided support for maternal contingencies as a potential avenue by which the link between high mother NE and high child NE may be reinforced. Specifically, mothers with higher levels of NE tended to punish their child’s negative emotions (i.e., discouragement of the negative emotional expression via sanctions; e.g., “Gave him/her a disgusted look”), which in turn was associated with higher levels of adolescent NE. Furthermore, being supportive of the adolescent’s negative emotions was associated with fewer internalizing symptoms, while magnifying the adolescent’s negative emotions (i.e., experiencing and expressing the negative emotion back to the child) was associated with more adolescent internalizing symptoms. Finally, results from Study 3 revealed that observed child PE was correlated across two time points, and that older children tended to express more PE than younger children. However, maternal contingencies (i.e., supportive vs. nonsupportive) to positive emotions were not correlated across time points, suggesting that mothers may not be socializing in a consistent manner across time. Nonetheless, maternal contingencies were associated with child internalizing symptoms; specifically, higher levels of maternal supportive responses to child PE at preschool age were associated with lower internalizing symptoms 2 years later.
The present dissertation makes an important contribution by conceptualizing its objectives through a developmental psychopathology framework (Cicchetti & Curtis, 2007). This framework emphasizes the need to explore multiple levels of factors that may influence the child’s symptoms of psychopathology. Specifically, by examining the parent-level characteristics and factors (e.g., emotionality, depression symptoms, maternal education), child-level factors (e.g., positive and negative emotionality), and parenting-level factors (e.g., positive and negative emotion socialization), the present set of studies allows for a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the complexity of a child’s emotional life at different developmental time points.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Briscoe, Ciara
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:October 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Stack, Dale M.
Keywords:emotionality, emotion socialization, internalizing symptoms, mother-child dyads, observation, negative emotions, positive emotions, contingencies
ID Code:983312
Deposited On:31 Oct 2018 16:24
Last Modified:31 Oct 2018 16:24
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