Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 105–117 | Cite as

Marital discord and child behavior problems: A meta-analysis

  • William J. Reid
  • Alida Crisafulli
Article

Abstract

The relation of marital discord to the behavior problems of children was examined through a meta-analysis of the results of prior research. The sample comprised all published studies through 1988 that met criteria for the metaanalysis and that could be located through a combined computer and hand search of the literature. Marital discord included conflict, disharmony, and lack of agreement between currently married parents. Child behavior problems were defined as conduct problems, excluding internalized difficulties, such as anxiety. Four hypotheses were drawn from recent reviews of studies on this topic: The relation between marital conflict and child behavior problems will be (1) positive overall and will be stronger (2) for boys than for girls, (3) for cases based entirely on parent self-report data than for cases involving external sources of data, (4) for clinic than for nonclinic families. Results supported the first three hypotheses. Little evidence was found for an association between marital conflict and the behavior problems of girls. Findings are discussed in terms of their methodological and theoretical implications and in relation to a recent review of research on sex differences in children's reactions to divorce.

Keywords

Behavior Problem Child Behavior External Source Theoretical Implication Child Behavior Problem 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • William J. Reid
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alida Crisafulli
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Social Welfare, Nelson A. Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and PolicyUnivesity at Albany, State University of New YorkUSA
  2. 2.Schenectady Child Guidance CenterSchenectady

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