Honors Program

Honors in Psychology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Diana M. Morelen

Thesis Professor Department


Thesis Reader(s)

Ginette C. Blackhart


The effects of maternal stress on child behavior, especially externalizing problems such as aggression, defiance, and lack of self-control, are well-established within psychological literature. Few studies, however, have examined the effects of maternal stress on child internalizing problems, such as loneliness, withdrawal, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Moreover, there is much research within developmental psychology to support the notion that parent-child co-regulation, sometimes called dyadic synchrony, can predict child behavioral outcomes. Currently, researchers lack an understanding of how this process can interact with maternal stress to predict child internalizing symptoms. The following thesis details a multi-method assessment which is designed to examine the mediating effect of co-regulation on the relationship between maternal stress and child internalizing symptoms. In this research project, mothers and their three-year-old children complete questionnaires and a challenging dyadic task to assess their current stress, internalizing symptoms, and co-regulation strategies. Co-regulation scores are assigned through a macro coding scheme developed by a behavioral observation coding team. Due to ongoing data collection, data from a comparable project were collected to test this hypothesis using similar self-report measures. This study may have significant implications for the effects of everyday parent-child interactions on future child health outcomes.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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