Early socialization of hostile attribution bias: The roles of parental attributions, parental discipline, and child attributes

Sujin Lee, Hyein Chang, Ka I. Ip, Sheryl L. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

The goal of this study was to examine child and parent predictors of children's hostile attribution bias (HAB) with a particular focus on exploring the associations between parents’ early attribution of child misbehavior and children's HAB in the transition to school age. Participants were 241 children (118 girls) of middle-income families who were at risk for school-age conduct problems. Multi-method, multi-informant data were collected on maternal attributions of child misbehavior, parental use of corporal punishment, and child attributes (i.e., verbal IQ, effortful control, theory of mind, and emotional understanding) at 3 years, and child HAB in ambiguous situations at 6 years. Results indicated that mothers’ internal explanations for children's misconduct may either reduce or increase children's later HAB depending on the specific content of attributions, such that mothers’ belief that children misbehave because of their internal state (i.e., emotional state or temperament) was associated with lower levels of child HAB, whereas attributing power-based motives (i.e., manipulative, controlling intentions) in children was associated with higher levels of HAB. The findings are discussed with respect to appreciating the complexity of parents’ explanations for children's behavior, and considering parental cognition as a potential target for early identification and prevention of child HAB and related problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-563
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Development
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Keywords

  • hostile attribution bias
  • parental attribution
  • parenting
  • preschool

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