Research Publication Title

Parental Attribution Trends and Child Social Competence

Major

Psychology

Faculty Mentor(s)

Tsu Ming Chiang, Ph.D.

Keywords

Parental attributions, social competence, child behavior, externalizing behavior, internalizing behavior

Abstract

Previous research suggests strong correlations between parental attributions and child externalizing versus internalizing behaviors. A study conducted by Holtrip, Smith, and Scott (2014) revealed that higher levels of parental problem solving and disciplinary behaviors were associated with increased child externalizing behaviors. Maternal monitoring, however, was associated with a decrease in child externalizing behaviors. Colalillo, Miller, & Johnson (2015) found that when mothers attributed responsibility to the child for misbehavior, child externalizing behaviors increased, however when fathers made child-responsible attributions, child internalizing behaviors increased. Maljaars et al. (2013) examined differences between parents who had a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and parents without an ASD child. Researchers found that for both types of parents, their child’s problem behavior resulted in increased parental externalizing behavior. Lastly, in a study conducted by Rodrigo, Janssens, and Ceballos (1999), children were able to correctly perceived maternal attributions based on the situation (i.e., based on whether on not the child was exhibiting internalizing or externalizing behaviors). Children’s perceptions of maternal attributions also seemed to mediate the child’s exhibition of autonomous behavior. Our current study aims to evaluate trends in parental attributions and how it affects their child’s social competence. Data is being collected from a Head Start program in the Southeastern United States through an intervention program promoting social competence. Approximately 60-80 parents of nominated children were asked to complete a parental survey in which they indicated the parenting strategies they used as well as the frequencies of positive and negative behaviors displayed by their child at home. Teachers of nominated children were asked to complete a Social Competence and Behavior Evaluation (SCBE, LaFreniere and Dumas, 1995) for each child. Based on existing literature, we expect to find parental internal attributions to negatively impact social competence, and parental external attributions to positively impact social competence.

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Parental Attribution Trends and Child Social Competence

Previous research suggests strong correlations between parental attributions and child externalizing versus internalizing behaviors. A study conducted by Holtrip, Smith, and Scott (2014) revealed that higher levels of parental problem solving and disciplinary behaviors were associated with increased child externalizing behaviors. Maternal monitoring, however, was associated with a decrease in child externalizing behaviors. Colalillo, Miller, & Johnson (2015) found that when mothers attributed responsibility to the child for misbehavior, child externalizing behaviors increased, however when fathers made child-responsible attributions, child internalizing behaviors increased. Maljaars et al. (2013) examined differences between parents who had a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and parents without an ASD child. Researchers found that for both types of parents, their child’s problem behavior resulted in increased parental externalizing behavior. Lastly, in a study conducted by Rodrigo, Janssens, and Ceballos (1999), children were able to correctly perceived maternal attributions based on the situation (i.e., based on whether on not the child was exhibiting internalizing or externalizing behaviors). Children’s perceptions of maternal attributions also seemed to mediate the child’s exhibition of autonomous behavior. Our current study aims to evaluate trends in parental attributions and how it affects their child’s social competence. Data is being collected from a Head Start program in the Southeastern United States through an intervention program promoting social competence. Approximately 60-80 parents of nominated children were asked to complete a parental survey in which they indicated the parenting strategies they used as well as the frequencies of positive and negative behaviors displayed by their child at home. Teachers of nominated children were asked to complete a Social Competence and Behavior Evaluation (SCBE, LaFreniere and Dumas, 1995) for each child. Based on existing literature, we expect to find parental internal attributions to negatively impact social competence, and parental external attributions to positively impact social competence.