Project: Research project

Project Details


Abusive and inadequate parenting has been shown to be associated with both
subtle and severe psychological disturbances in children, as well as
neurological and other physical damage. A clear understanding of factors
leading to such parenting is crucial for effective intervention
development. The proposed series of studies will attempt to provide
information bearing on a cognitive explanation of maladaptive parenting.
The studies proposed will examine four cognitive factors that are posited
as interfering with the steps of social information processing parent-child
transactions such that more negative and less positive parental responses
result. These factors are unrealistic expectations of what is appropriate
child behavior, attributions of negative child intent, poor problem
solving, and low perceived parenting efficacy. Five studies will be
conducted. The first three will employ paper and pencil measures and will
assess: 1) whether heightened levels of these cognitive disturbances are
characteristic of samples at-risk for maladaptive parenting (abusive
mothers, intellectually low functioning mothers, and adolescents with an
abusive caretaking history) and 2) whether these factors are associated
with higher levels of punitiveness in responses made to hypothetical
aversive child behavior. Two additional studies with abusive and
nonabusive mother samples will examine whether the first of these cognitive
disturbances, unrealistic expectations relates to parental cognitive
responses (parents' attributions, problem solving, and efficacy) and
behavioral reactions in situations involving actual childbearing stress
(e.g. naturally occurring discipline situations in the home and a
laboratory manipulation of teaching success/failure). Measures of
contextual factors (life event stress and social support) and mood state
will also be employed to explore their relative contribution to predicting
parental responses. Finally, a preliminary attempt will be made to relate
these cognitive disturbances to child outcome by including a measure of
child behaviors problems.

Information gained from these studies will aid in the refinement of
cognitive approaches to treating child maltreatment and parenting
inadequacy by providing a clearer understanding of the manner in which
social information processing occurs in parenting situation both in normal
parents and individuals showing evidence of parenting risk.
Effective start/end date9/1/903/31/97


  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Institutes of Health: $110,900.00
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Institute of Mental Health
  • National Institute of Mental Health


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