Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Kate Flory


In response to escalating concerns about the increasing incidence of adolescent internalizing disorders, several mechanisms have been investigated to understand their etiology. Though genetic predisposition contributes to the risk for psychopathology, its interaction with environmental stressors such as interparental conflict appears to further increase this risk. Girls are more susceptible to stressors and twice as likely as boys to develop internalizing problems. However, friendship quality may buffer some of the adverse effects incurred from exposure to interparental conflict. A recent review of proposed mechanisms through which conflict is associated with youth psychopathology pinpointed the need for further adolescent-focused research including moderating variables such as gender and peer relationships. This study thus aimed to add to the adolescent literature by investigating the roles of gender and friendship quality as moderators of the effects of interparental conflict on internalizing problems. Results from primary analyses did not support the presence of moderation effects of gender or friendship quality on the relation between interparental conflict and adolescent selfreported internalizing problems. However, exploratory analyses did reveal moderation effects when parent-reported adolescent internalizing problems was used as an outcome variable instead. Both boys and girls who indicated low levels of friendship quality, but only girls with mean levels of friendship quality, endorsed significantly higher levels of internalizing symptoms as interparental conflict increased. Implications derived from the findings include the need for: (a) further research on the role of gender and aspects of friendship that influence adolescent internalizing problems in the context of interparental conflict, (b) obtaining data from both parents and adolescents to account for different perceptions, (c) developing school-based interventions to promote positive peer relationships and mental health with tiered and targeted interventions for those experiencing interparental conflict. Keywords: Adolescence, Interparental conflict, internalizing problems, gender, friendship quality, moderation