Title page for ETD etd-09182008-063019
|Type of Document
||Ingman, Kathleen A.
||The relationship between family environment and internalizing and externalizing childhood behavior problems
||Master of Science
|Ollendick, Thomas H.
|Finney, jack W.
|Jones, Russell T.
|Date of Defense
In spite of the high prevalence of internalizing and externalizing disorders in
children, little research has been conducted to directly assess risk factors associated with
the development of these disorders. Among other influences, it has been suggested that
the expression of childhood psychopathology may be related to family socialization
practices. This study uses Olson's circumplex model of marital and family systems to test
the relationship between family environment and the internalizing and externalizing
domains of childhood psychopathology. It was hypothesized that children with
internalizing behavior problems come from families that are high in cohesion (i.e.,
enmeshed) and low in flexibility (i.e., rigid and structured). Furthermore, it was predicted
that these families are low in level of expressed conflict and have poor communication
levels within the family. Families o(children with externalizing behavior problems, on the
other hand, were hypothesized to be low in cohesion (i.e., disengaged), and to be either
high or low in flexibility (i.e., rigid or chaotic). They were predicted to openly express
high levels of conflict within the family, but generally have poor communication skills.
These hypotheses were tested using Achenbach's Child Behavior Checklist to assign
children between the ages of 7 and 11 to internalizing (n = 9) and externalizing (n = 10)
groups and using an objective observational measure and several self-report measures to
evaluate the families along the dimensions of the circumplex model. Results failed to
confirm these hypotheses, however, they were suggestive of a link between family
environment and nature and severity of childhood behavior problems.
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