What is it about?

To study the immediate impact that interparental conflict has on children and adolescents arises ethical issues. So, researchers have developed procedures to try to identify what happens when children and adolescents see interparental conflict. One of these procedures is to develop video-vignettes depicting couples having common life conflicts such as expenses, children's curfew, etc. We developed short video-vignettes lasting one minute to set the conflict situation and 15 seconds to conclude, either constructively (reaching an agreement with positive affect), destructively (threat, high and angry voice) or unresolvedly (one of the parents leaves the scene). We studied 162 Spanish adolescents divided in two subsamples: one subsample of 86 adolescents living with their families and 76 adolescents living in Residential care centres. Each subsample was comprised of adolescents with high and low emotional security. All watched 6 videos depicting eveyday interparental conflicts: two were destructive conflicts, two were constructive conflicts and two were unresolved conflicts.Each participant saw a different combination of video-vignettes but the last video they watched had to show a constructive conflict. Adolescents' cognitive, emotional and behavioral responses after watching the videos were collected. Results showed that adolescents from Residential care centres and adolescents with low emotional security showed sentitization to constructive interparental conflicts.

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Why is it important?

This study contributes technology to elicit responses to different types of interparental conflict: video vignettes in Spanish. This videovignettes do not only depit constructive and destructive conflict but also a type of conflict that is not so commonly addressed: unresolved conflict. As for the results of the study: it shows adolescents' differential responses (emotional, cognitive and behavioral) to these three conflict types (constructive, destructive and unresolved) and it shows the potential of constructive conflict to identify sensitization to interparental conflict in samples of adolescents, specially adolescents in residential care and adolescents with low emotional security. Results reveal that not all adolescents in care are low in emotional security as we could identify adolescents in residential care with high emotional security.


Writing this article was a great opportunity to learn with my co-authors. I think that this article is a good contribution to the study of adolescents' emotional security and it broadens the scope of Emotional Security Theory to another country, Spain, and to an underaddressed population such as adolescents in residential care.

Dr. Silvia López-Larrosa
Universidade da Coruna

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Emotional Security and Interparental Conflict: Responses of Adolescents from Different Living Arrangements, Journal of Child and Family Studies, March 2019, Springer Science + Business Media,
DOI: 10.1007/s10826-019-01364-1.
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