Macquarie University
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The role of children's coping self-efficacy beliefs in the context of parental conflict: implications for children's psychological adjustment

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:32 authored by Heidi Brummert Lennings
This thesis presents three studies investigating the differential impact of parental conflict on children’s psychological outcomes. Of particular interest is children’s personal agency, which can be observed through children’s coping self-efficacy beliefs to cope with parental conflict. The studies described in this thesis utilized cross-sectional and longitudinal statistical methods with a large sample of school students in grades 5 and 7. Study 1 consisted of a concurrent sample of 663 school students (299 males, 364 females; 72% White, 20% Asian, 4% Middle Eastern and 4% from other ethnic groups). The aim of the first study was to develop and validate the Parental Conflict Coping Self Efficacy Scale (PCC-SES) through a multi-informant methodology. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported the three global strategy structure of the PCC-SES, Proactive Behavior (problem solving and seeking social support), Avoiding Maladaptive Cognitions (avoiding preoccupation, avoiding self-blame and distancing) and Avoiding Maladaptive Behavior (avoiding aggression and avoiding overinvolvement). Studies 2 and 3 were based on a longitudinal sample of 593 school students (271 males, 322 females) who participated in the study on two occasions. Study 2 found support for the mediating role of the coping self-efficacy strategies in the relationship between parental conflict and children’s psychological maladjustment both through cross-sectional and longitudinal methods. In particular, coping self-efficacy for avoiding maladaptive cognitions mediated the effect of parental conflict and children’s internalizing symptoms longitudinally. In Study 3, the results are presented for the moderating role of contextual family factors within the aforementioned longitudinal mediation. These results have important implications for increasing positive coping self-efficacy beliefs in children who live in the context of parental conflict.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. General introduction -- Chapter 2. Personal agency in children : assessing children's coping self-efficacy in the context of parental conflict -- Chapter 3. The mediating role of coping self-efficacy beliefs on the relationship between parental conflict and child psychological adjustment -- Chapter 4. The effect of family functioning on the mediation of parental conflict and children's psychological maladjustment : a longitudinal moderated mediation model -- Chapter 5. General discussion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: leaves 119-141

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Kay Bussey

Additional Supervisor 1

Alan Taylor


Copyright Heidi Brummert Lennings 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (xi, 161 leaves) diagrams, tables

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