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UVM Theses and Dissertations

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Format:
Online
Author:
Brassell, Anne
Dept./Program:
Psychology
Year:
2018
Degree:
PhD
Abstract:
Parental trauma symptomatology can profoundly impact a child’s social/emotional and cognitive development, a phenomenon known as transgenerational trauma. Thus far, the majority of research examining transgenerational trauma has studied the concept within mothers from Westernized cultures and their children and adolescents. Very little attention has been given to families from diverse sociocultural contexts, and few studies have examined the effects of transgenerational trauma in infancy, a period of time marked by numerous developmental considerations. The current study addresses the limitations of past work by examining transgenerational trauma in refugee/infant dyads. Building upon existing models from previous studies, this research utilizes moderated mediation models to examine (1) the relation between maternal trauma symptomatology and atypical parenting behavior in predicting infant development, (2) the mediating role of atypical parenting behavior in the relation between maternal trauma symptomatology and infant development, and (3) the role of parental resiliency in mitigating the relation between maternal trauma symptomatology and atypical parenting behaviors. Data was collected from 61 refugee mother/infant dyads. Measures included culturally informed assessment of maternal trauma symptomatology, emotion-focused coping, problem-focused coping, psychological flexibility, observational coding of atypical parenting behaviors, and standardized assessment of infant cognitive and social/emotional development. Findings did not provide support for the hypothesized model of transgenerational trauma. Post-hoc analyses indicated that greater maternal trauma symptomatology is related to increased negative/intrusive parenting behavior, and increased maternal psychological flexibility is related to improved infant cognitive development. Implications for study findings are reviewed and directions for future research are delineated.