Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 16, Iss. 3, July, 2012, pp. 313-330
@2012 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences

 
 
 

A Nonlinear Dynamical Systems Analysis of Child Emotion Displays in Relation to Family Context and Child Adjustment: A Cox Hazard Approach

James Snyder, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
Callie Brockman, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
Mike Stoolmiller, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR

Abstract: This report examines how the relative attractor strengths of children”s display of three emotion states, anger, sadness/fear, and neutral-engaged, are associated with exposure to maternal negative affect and care giving disruptions, and to child antisocial behavior and depression. Exposure to negative maternal affect was associated with a weaker attractor state for sadness or fear displays relative to those for anger and neutral-engaged displays. Exposure to care giving disruptions was associated with stronger attractor strength for anger and sadness/fear relative to that for neutral-engaged. Overt and covert antisocial behaviors were associated with weaker attractor states for sadness/fear displays relative that for the neutral-engaged displays. Overt antisocial behavior was associated with a stronger attractor state for anger displays relative to that for neutral-engaged displays, and covert antisocial behavior with a weaker attractor state for fear/sadness displays relative to that for neutral-engaged displays. Child depressive symptoms were marginally associated with a stronger attractor state for fear/sadness displays relative to neutral-engaged. The data suggest the attractor strengths for emotion display states are affected by social experience and that between-individual risk for various forms of psychopathology is related to the relative intra-individual attractor strength of various emotion displays in a multi-state emotion display system.

Keywords: emotion displays, attractor strength, risk for problem behavior, social experience