Social information processing (SIP) theory has been useful in understanding male aggression both generally and within intimate relationships. This study examined a SIP model of parenting risk in adolescent males (N=77) who are not yet parents but have characteristics found in adult men who have physically abused children. Three SIP factors were predicted to play a role in the use of punishment: rigid and inappropriate child expectations (schema), problem-solving abilities and attributions of negative child intent. The adolescents in this study exhibited SIP difficulties at levels similar to those found in maltreating mothers and mothers at risk for perpetrating child maltreatment. As predicted, those who had more unrealistic expectations gave significantly more irrelevant solutions to child-rearing problems, made more negative intent attributions and assigned higher levels of punishment when presented with aversive child behaviour scenarios. Testing of the full model using structural equation modeling revealed, as predicted, significant direct paths between two SIP elements (problem-solving and attributions) and punishment levels assigned to children. An indirect path between expectations and punishment through attributions was also found. History of abuse did not add to the model in this at-risk sample. Implications of findings for prevention and future directions are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health