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Department of Psychology Clinical Psychology for Children/Adolescents and Couples/Families

Impact of Stress on Relationship Development of Couples and Children

A Longitudinal Approach on Dyadic Development Across the Lifespan

This study aims to examine predictors of close relationship functioning, the development of close relationships and the likelihood for separation and marital dissolution as well as the impact of close relationships' functioning on the well-being of children within a prospective longitudinal study including three cohorts (couples aged 20-35; 40-55; 65-80 years). A total of 360 couples (120 couples per age group) and their children will be investigated by means of self-report data and observational data (communication behavior, dyadic coping). Data collection will include predictors on the individual level (cognitive and emotional variables: neuroticism, implicit and explicit motives, motive specific and motive oriented activities, need satisfaction, stress, coping), the dyadic level (communication behavior, dyadic coping, commitment, goals, attachment, sexuality, etc.) as well as child level (well-being of children perceived by parents as well as children themselves). A main focus of the study is the examination of the impact of different forms of stress on couples' and children's functioning as well as the role of buffering variables such as individual, dyadic coping and cognitive processes (implicit and explicit motives, goals, commitment etc.). Three major questions will be addressed: (1) How do individual, dyadic, and environmental factors combine to development and deterioration in the couple relationship? (2) To what degree are couples at three distinct phases in the family life cycle similar and different in the ways they change and develop within behavioral, cognitive, emotional and motivational domains? (3) How covary changes in couple relationships and changes in child well-being? Implications of findings for educational and preventive interventions for couples and children will be addressed.

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