Father-child emotional reciprocity and children's prosocial behavior
Tankersley, Laura G
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The purpose of this study was to examine the links between father-child emotional reciprocity, or the relative matching of both positive and negative affect between father and child, and children's positive mood, cooperative behavior, and aggressive behavior when playing with a peer. In addition, three factors were examined as possible contributors to individual differences in father-child emotional reciprocity: (a) marital conflict, (b) father personality, and (c) children's temperament. Participants were 59 families with preschool children, 35 boys and 34 girls, who were a subsample of subjects participating in a larger longitudinal investigation. Findings revealed that fathers who expressed more positive emotion had children who displayed more positive mood and prosocial behavior, and less aggression, when playing with a peer. Children who displayed more positive emotion with their father also displayed more positive mood with their peer, whereas children who displayed more negative emotion with their father were more aggressive when interacting with a peer. Children from father-child dyads with higher levels of positive emotional reciprocity displayed more positive mood when playing with a peer, whereas children from father-child dyads with higher levels of negative emotional reciprocity displayed less positive mood and less prosocial behavior. Father-child emotional mismatch was associated with children's having a more positive mood and high levels of prosocial behavior when playing with a peer. Findings suggest that father-child emotional expressiveness has important implications for children's prosocial behavior.