Responses of Physically Abused and Nonabused Children to Different Forms of Interadult Anger

Kevin D. Hennessy, Gerald J. Rabideau, Dante Cicchetti, E. Mark Cummings

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Responses to various forms of interadult anger were examined in 2 groups of 6–11‐year‐olds: 44 low‐SES children with a history of physical abuse and exposure to interspousal aggression, and 44 low‐SES children exposed to interspousal aggression but with no history of physical abuse or other child maltreatment. Children were presented with videotaped segments of adults in angry and friendly interactions. Angry segments varied on (a) the type of anger expression (nonverbal, verbal, verbal‐physical), and (b) whether anger was resolved. In general, physically abused children reported greater fear than nonabused children in response to all forms of interadult anger. Moreover, abused children appeared particularly sensitive to whether anger between adults was resolved. Findings are discussed with regard factors that may mediate relations between exposure to family violence and the development of psychopathology in children from highly aggressive home environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-828
Number of pages14
JournalChild development
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1994
Externally publishedYes


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