Research has shown that emotions can be contagious, especially within close relationships such as families. Studies have shown that one family member’s daily experiences of emotion can predict another family member’s emotions. However, many studies overlook the importance of accurately studying daily experiences and have focused on the transmission of emotion-related constructs instead of emotions themselves. The goal of the current study was to examine the extent to which parents’ and children’s negative and positive daily affect are bidirectionally related, and the extent to which these relations differ depending on (a) child sex, (b) parental depressive symptoms, and (c) family environment quality, using a one-week daily diary method. Participants were 55 families with a child (M age = 13.50 years, SD = 1.80; 52.7% female). Based on multilevel modeling, results indicated that daily fluctuations in mothers’ positive affect predicted lower child positive affect and higher child negative affect on the next day; both associations were counter to hypotheses. Higher than usual child positive affect predicted higher next-day fathers’ positive affect, consistent with hypotheses. Moderation analyses showed that, for fathers with higher levels of depressive symptoms (controlling for the quality of the family environment), higher than usual positive affect in children was associated with higher same-day positive affect in fathers. A higher quality family environment (controlling for maternal depression) strengthened the transmission of children’s negative affect to their mothers’ lower positive affect on the next day. Limitations and practical implications of the current study, and future research directions are discussed.

Degree Date

Winter 12-19-2020

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License