Negative cognitive errors and positive illusions for negative divorce events: Predictors of children's psychological adjustment

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This study examined the relations among negative cognitive errors regarding hypothetical negative divorce events, positive illusions about those same events, actual divorce events, and psychological adjustment in 38 8- to 12-year-old children whose parents had divorced within the previous 2 years. Children's scores on a scale of negative cognitive errors (catastmphizing, overgeneralizing, and personalizing) correlated significantly with self-reported symptoms of anxiety and self-esteem, and with maternal reports of behavior problems. Children's scores on a scale measuring positive illusions (high self-regard, illusion of personal control, and optimism for the future) correlated significantly with less self-reported aggression. Both appraisal types accounted for variance in some measures of symptomatology beyond that explained by actual events. There was no significant association between children's negative cognitive errors and positive illusions. The implications of these results for theories of negative cognitive errors and of positive illusions, as well as for future research, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-542
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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