Triadic coordination: An observational method for examining whether children are "caught in the middle" of interparental discord

Michael A. Westerman, Melinda Massoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Triadic coordination refers to how a parent coordinates his or her contributions with the spouse's bids toward their child. This construct provides a basis for studying specifically triadic family interaction processes. In particular, it offers a new approach for examining whether children are "caught in the middle" of marital discord. We conducted an initial, smallscale study of mother-father-child interactions in a structured task in order to pursue the methodological goal of developing an observational procedure for measuring triadic coordination processes. The results suggest that the approach has considerable promise for making a contribution to future research on marital discord and child functioning. We found that processes of triadic coordination can be assessed reliably. Other findings included an interesting pattern of results, which merits further investigation in future studies, concerning relations between whether and how a parent disagreed with or opposed the spouse's bids toward their child, on the one hand, and other measures of family functioning and measures of child functioning, on the other hand.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-493
Number of pages15
JournalFamily Process
Volume40
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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