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Maternal Meta-Emotion Philosophy and Cognitive Functioning in Children Exposed to Violence

Abstract

Children exposed to violence tend to have lower IQs, poorer performance on explicit memory tasks, and lower verbal performance. Despite evidence that caregivers influence children’s behavioral and emotional responses to violence, little is known about caregivers’ role in mitigating the effects of violence exposure on children’s cognitive functioning. This study tested the hypothesis that maternal meta-emotion philosophy of children’s sadness and anger, assessed using Gottman’s Meta-Emotion Interview, would be associated with children’s verbal IQ. This was done in a sample of 79 dyads consisting of mothers and their preschool-aged children exposed to either community or domestic violence. Multiple regression analyses indicated that a composite of maternal awareness, acceptance, and coaching of children’s sadness, but not anger, significantly predicted children’s verbal IQ. These findings contribute to the field’s understanding of parents’ role in children’s cognitive functioning among children exposed to community and family violence.

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Notes

  1. Although scores fell below low average (thus, typically indicating developmental delay), children who have experienced trauma often achieve low scores despite having no diagnosable delay. Therefore, all children were retained in the analyses.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant R21 MH59, 661 and by the Irving Harris Foundation. The authors wish to acknowledge Patricia Van Horn, J.D., Ph.D., Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Ph.D., and Griselda Oliver Bucio, LMFT for their contributions to study design and production of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Emily Cohodes.

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This research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant R21 MH59, 661 and by the Irving Harris Foundation.

Authors do not report any conflicts of interest.

No animals were involved in research.

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Cohodes, E., Hagan, M., Lieberman, A. et al. Maternal Meta-Emotion Philosophy and Cognitive Functioning in Children Exposed to Violence. Journ Child Adol Trauma 9, 191–199 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-015-0072-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-015-0072-x

Keywords

  • Trauma
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Cognition
  • Community violence
  • Emotion regulation
  • Preschool-age children
  • Emotion socialization