Document Type



Author's Final Manuscript

Publication Title

Journal of Family Psychology



Publication Date



To test the social learning-based hypothesis that marital conflict resolution patterns are learned in the family-of-origin, we used longitudinal, observational data to assess prospective associations between family conflict interaction patterns during adolescence and offspring’s later marital conflict interaction patterns. Forty-seven participants completed an observed family conflict resolution task with their parents at age 14. Seventeen years later, they completed an observed marital conflict interaction task with their spouse, as well as a measure of marital adjustment. As predicted, levels of hostility and positive engagement expressed by parents and adolescents during family interactions were prospectively linked with levels of hostility and positive engagement expressed by offspring and their spouses during marital interactions. Family-of-origin hostility was a particularly robust predictor of marital interaction behaviors; it predicted later marital hostility and engagement controlling for psychopathology and positive family-of-origin engagement. For men, family-of-origin hostility also predicted poorer marital adjustment, an effect that was mediated through hostility in marital interactions. These findings suggest a long-lasting influence of family communication patterns, particularly hostility, on offspring’s intimate communication and relationship functioning.



Included in

Psychology Commons