Broken bonds: A meta-analysis of emotion reactivity and regulation in emotionally maltreating parents

Iris Lavi, Iris Manor-Binyamini, Elizabeth Seibert, Lynn Fainsilber Katz, Emily J. Ozer, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Emotional maltreatment is the most pervasive but least studied form of abuse. Objective: In the present study, we examined the role of emotion reactivity and emotion regulation in emotional child maltreatment. Methods: We identified nine studies that compared levels of parental emotion reactivity and regulation in emotionally maltreating families with levels in non-maltreating families. Results: Our meta-analytic findings revealed that, in comparison to non-maltreating parents, parents who are emotionally maltreating their children report higher levels of negative affect, depression, verbal aggression, and anger. We also found that in comparison to non-maltreating parents, emotionally maltreating parents report lower levels of emotional control, emotion regulation, and coping strategies. Conclusions: We outline the theoretical and practical implications of these results, and emphasize how research into the etiology of child maltreatment may provide the basis for more effective prevention, screening, and treatment practices designed to eradicate emotional maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-388
Number of pages13
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper was supported by the Haruv Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship and by the Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship awarded to the first author.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd


  • Child abuse
  • Child maltreatment
  • Child neglect
  • Emotion dysregulation
  • Emotion reactivity
  • Emotion regulation
  • Emotional maltreatment
  • Emotional processing
  • Intergenerational abuse
  • Parent-child bond

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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