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Hostility Ratings by Parents at Risk for Child Abuse: Impact of Chronic and Temporary Schema Activation

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 32 Issue: 2 Dated: Feburary 2008 Pages: 177-193
Maria-Magdalena Farc; Julie L. Crouch; John J. Skowronski; Joel S. Milner
Date Published
February 2008
Two studies are presented designed to examine the possibility that chronic and temporary activation of hostile schema may influence parental ratings of children depicted as behaving in an ambiguous fashion.
These studies/experiments provide evidence that levels of accessibility of hostility-related schema impact how parents interpret unclear child stimuli. The findings from the experiments are consistent with the proposition that high child physical abuse (CPA) risk parents are more likely to infer hostility in response to ambiguous child cues. Further, accessibility of hostility-related schema in parents, increases the likelihood of hostile inferences, which in turn may increase attributions of hostile intent and aggressive parenting behaviors. Additional research is suggested to examine the extent to which hostile trait inferences automatically lead to hostile parenting behaviors, and what factors might moderate this association. A wide array of factors has been implicated in the etiology of CPA, including both psychological and sociological factors. In Experiment 1, participants included 108 parents (79 low and 29 high CPA risk) and 88 parents (43 low and 45 high CPA risk) were included in Experiment 2. The objective of this report was to examine whether accessibility of hostility-related schema influenced ratings of ambiguous child pictures. Based on the social information processing model of CPA, it was expected that CPA risk status would serve as a proxy for chronic accessibility of hostile schema, while priming procedures were used to manipulate temporary accessibility of hostility-related schema. Figures, tables and references