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Parents’ spontaneous evaluations of children and symbolic harmful behaviors toward their child

Mccarthy, Randy J ; Skowronski, John J ; Crouch, Julie L ; Milner, Joel S

Child Abuse & Neglect, May 2017, Vol.67, pp.419-428 [Peer Reviewed Journal]

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  • Title:
    Parents’ spontaneous evaluations of children and symbolic harmful behaviors toward their child
  • Author/Creator: Mccarthy, Randy J ; Skowronski, John J ; Crouch, Julie L ; Milner, Joel S
  • Language: English
  • Subjects: Physical Child Abuse ; Child Abuse Potential ; Spontaneous Trait Inferences ; Voodoo Doll Task ; Social Welfare & Social Work
  • Is Part Of: Child Abuse & Neglect, May 2017, Vol.67, pp.419-428
  • Description: Parents’ evaluations of children are believed to be a cognitive contributor to their subsequent child-directed harsh or physically abusive behaviors. The current research examined whether parents’ ( = 100) evaluations of children were moderated by either (a) the child behavior on which the evaluation was based and (b) parents’ measured risk for child physical abuse. The study also explored whether parents’ evaluations of children were related to their tendencies to symbolically harm their child. The current study also used a novel method to indirectly assess parents’ evaluations of children: A modified Affect Misattribution Procedure. Contrary to a priori expectations, negative evaluations of children were stronger for parents who were at low risk, relative to high risk, for child physical abuse. Nonetheless, we observed that high-risk parents were more likely than low-risk parents to inflict symbolic harm onto their child. In an exploratory analysis we observed that parents who formed more overall negative evaluations of children engaged in more symbolic harm to their child. Although high-risk parents were more likely to symbolically harm their child than low-risk parents, this effect does not seem to be due to high-risk parents’ negative child evaluations from negative child behaviors.
  • Identifier: ISSN: 0145-2134 ; E-ISSN: 1873-7757 ; DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.02.005