Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Clinical Psychology

Committee Chair

Gilbert Parra

Committee Member

Robert Cohen

Committee Member

Meghan McDevitt-Murphy

Committee Member

Lynda Sagrestano


The present study was designed to investigate whether family conversations moderated the relation between stressful life experiences in childhood and negative emotion-related outcomes in young adulthood. Undergraduate students (N = 99, mean age = 19.6 years, 77% females) were administered a semi-structured interview about their childhood stressful life experiences and use of family conversations in response to those experiences. They also completed questionnaires about their current levels of depression, eating-related difficulties, self-harm behaviors, and aggression. It was found that talking with one's parent moderated the relation between number of stressful life experiences and history of self-harm behaviors. Additionally, the participants' relationship with their parents was found to moderate the relation of conversations and depression and self-harm behaviors at a marginally significant level. Results indicated that evaluation aspects of the event, gender of parent, function of conversation (e.g., communicating mainly facts or feelings), overall family climate, and cultural background of the family seem to be important in terms of predicting conversations and assessing the effects of family conversations. Additionally, the results suggest that for families who have clear rules about the appropriateness of family communication about difficult topics, having these formal conversations may decrease the levels fo self-harm or other emotion-related behaviors that the child may utilize in the future.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.