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Early trajectories of interparental conflict and externalizing problems as predictors of social competence in preadolescence

  • Chrystyna D. Kouros (a1), E. Mark Cummings (a2) and Patrick T. Davies (a3)


Consistent with developmental cascade notions, the present study investigated (a) associations between trajectories of interparental conflict and early externalizing problems during childhood and (b) early trajectories of externalizing problems as a pathway by which interparental conflict impacts children's social competence in preadolescence. Participants were 235 children and their parents and teachers. Children were assessed annually for 3 years, beginning when they were in kindergarten. Parents provided reports of interparental conflict and child externalizing problems. Children's social competence (prosocial behavior, social problems) was assessed approximately 5 years later via parent and teacher reports. Results from parallel process models indicated that changes in interparental conflict were positively associated with changes in externalizing problems during childhood. Further, demonstrating pathways consistent with notions of developmental cascades, early trajectories of externalizing problems accounted for the longitudinal link between early trajectories of interparental conflict and children's social problems in preadolescence.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Chrystyna D. Kouros, Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; E-mail:


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