Interparental aggression, attention skills, and early childhood behavior problems

Nissa R. Towe-Goodman, Cynthia A. Stifter, Michael A. Coccia, Martha J. Cox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The current study explored longitudinal associations between interparental aggression, the development of child attention skills, and early childhood behavior problems in a diverse sample of 636 families living in predominately low-income, nonmetropolitan communities. The results of latent-variable, cross-lagged longitudinal models revealed that maternal-reported interparental aggression in infancy predicted reduced observed attention skills in toddlerhood; no association was observed, however, between attention in infancy and interparental aggression during the toddler years. Further, reduced toddler attention and high interparental aggression were both associated with increased risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms and conduct problems at 3 years of age. Processes largely operated in similar ways regardless of child gender or low-income status, although a few differences were observed. Overall, the results suggest that interparental aggression undermines attention development, putting children's early behavioral adjustment at risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)563-576
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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