Effects of Interparental Conflict During Divorce on Offspring

A Multidimensional Investigation

  • Phillip Radetzki MacEwan University
  • Kendall Deleurme MacEwan University


Among other risks, children of divorce are vulnerable to greater levels of anxiety and depression than are children of intact marriages. However, researchers have recently found that not all cases of divorce are equivalent. The present study aimed to contribute to the area by investigating the impact of interparental conflict during the divorce process on offspring mental health. It was hypothesized that perceptions of high interparental conflict (PIC) during the divorce process would positively correlate with irrational beliefs (IB), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and materialist orientations (MO). It was also hypothesized that PIC would negatively correlating with well-being (WB), emotion regulation (ER), and interpersonal competence (IC). Self-report measures of PIC, IB, GAD, MO, WB, ER, and IC were administered to a non-clinical sample of university students (N = 126). Bivariate analyses revealed significant positive correlations between PIC and PWB, as well as significant negative correlations between PIC and IB and PIC and ER. A multivariate linear regression revealed that, of the six factors, PIC emerged as the only unique predictor of IB. Interestingly, IC and ER differed between adult children of high and low conflict divorce. These findings suggest that children are resilient to the divorce process in their psychological wellbeing, susceptibility to irrational thinking and beliefs, and ability to regulate emotions. Future research may explore cognitions related to adult-children’s ability to maintain rational thinking and regulate emotions despite unfavorable conditions. Findings may have relevance in guiding families through divorce and have implications for early interventions.

Discipline: Psychology (Honours)

Faculty Mentor: Sean Rogers