Amanda R. Barry, Fiona O'Malley, Jasmine Marsh



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Childhood exposure to destructive interparental conflict (DIC) may have negative effects on adult romantic relationships, in part via impairment in the parent-child bond. Good emotion regulation, including emotional awareness, usually fosters wellbeing, but recent studies suggest that, following DIC, nonawareness (NA) may be partially protective. The present study (N= 807 undergraduate students) tested maternal and paternal attachment anxiety (MAA and PAA) as mediators of the link between DIC and adult romantic attachment anxiety (ARAA) with NA as a moderator. Higher DIC frequency was linked with ARAA via higher MAA at low (CI = 1.37, .62) and moderate (CI = .92, .36) NA and via PAA at low (CI = 1.52, .74) and moderate (CI = 1.01, .48) NA; at high NA paths were not significant. NA also moderated the DIC intensity/ARAA link via MAA (CI = .01, .12). While significant at all levels of NA, this path was stronger at low (b = 1.12) versus high levels (b = .51). Exposure to DIC can negatively impact ARAA via impaired child-parent attachment; this relation may be stronger for children more aware of their emotions, as increased awareness may underlie a sensitization to DIC and its impact. Clinically, it may be helpful to aid children with high emotional awareness to manage emotional reactivity, and as young adults to process the implications of their parents’ DIC for their own lives.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Lucy J. Allbaugh

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Good Health and Well-Being

Destructive Interparental Conflict: The Moderating Effect of Awareness of Emotions on Parent and Partner Attachment