29-09-2022 | Original Paper
When Parents Wear Dark Glasses: An Experimental Study on Parental Negative Attributions and Parenting Behavior
Gepubliceerd in: Journal of Child and Family Studies | Uitgave 12/2022Log in om toegang te krijgen
This experimental study aimed to advance our understanding of parental negative attributions of children’s misbehavior (parental interpretations of what causes children’s misbehavior) and how they relate to other parental characteristics. Specifically, we examined: (1) How different measures of parental negative attributions relate to cognitive and affective parental characteristics (e.g., stress, temperament, parental self-efficacy); and (2) How reducing negative parental attributions affects parenting. In all steps, we differentiated between two types of negative parental attributions: parent-causal attributions (identifying one’s parenting or parent characteristics as cause for the child’s behavior) and child-responsible attributions (identifying the child as responsible for the behavior). Data were collected from 78 parents and their 3 to 5-year-old children (M = 51.67 months, SD = 8.56) in a lab experiment. Parents were randomly assigned to conditions aimed to reduce negative attributions (parent-causal, child-responsible) or a control condition. Results suggest that different parental characteristics tap into complementary aspects of negative parental attributions. Global parental negative attributions were associated with parent negative affect, laxness and positive discipline, and these associations were stronger for parent-causal than child-responsible attributions. Experimental manipulation of parental negative attributions seemed to reduce situation-specific attributions (both parent-causal and child-responsible), but not global attributions, parental self-efficacy or parenting behavior. Our findings suggest parental negative attributions of child’s misbehavior may be a node in the complex parenting network of parental cognitions, affect, and behavior. Understanding the causal effects and malleability of negative parental attributions may advance parenting process theory and practice.