Evaluating school and peer protective factors in the effects of interparental conflict on adolescent threat appraisals and self-efficacy

Devin M. McCauley, Bridget B. Weymouth, Mark E. Feinberg, Gregory M. Fosco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: Recent work has sought to understand how family-specific risk, such as exposure to interparental conflict, may generalize to developmentally-salient processes in adolescence. A cascade model has been identified in which conflict-specific threat appraisals may erode adolescents’ self-efficacy over time, and in turn, undermine their psychological well-being. The goal of this study was to integrate success in the school and peer contexts as potential contextual protective factors that may mitigate the effects of interparental conflict on self-efficacy. Methods: We tested the additive and interactive effects of success in school and peer contexts on adolescent self-efficacy to better understand these ecological contextual factors for a family risk model. Analyses were conducted using structural equation modeling with a sample of 768 two-parent U.S. families across three measurement occasions. Interparental conflict, threat appraisals, self-efficacy, and school success and peer support were measured using multiple, established scales. Results: Results supported the additive effects model, in that school success and peer support significantly contributed to general self-efficacy above and beyond the effects of threat appraisals of interparental conflict, but did not moderate the association between threat appraisals and self-efficacy. Conclusions: Findings indicate that strengths in school and peer contexts have potential to compensate for, but do not appear to buffer, the negative effects of threat appraisals of interparental conflict and underscore the importance of these contexts for understanding multifinality in outcomes of adolescents exposed to interparental conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-37
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescence
StatePublished - Feb 2019


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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