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Psicothema was founded in Asturias (northern Spain) in 1989, and is published jointly by the Psychology Faculty of the University of Oviedo and the Psychological Association of the Principality of Asturias (Colegio Oficial de Psicología del Principado de Asturias).
We currently publish four issues per year, which accounts for some 100 articles annually. We admit work from both the basic and applied research fields, and from all areas of Psychology, all manuscripts being anonymously reviewed prior to publication.

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Is it the Child´s Fault? Maternal Attributions in Child Abuse and Neglect

Cláudia Camilo1,2 , Margarida Vaz Garrido2 and Maria Manuela Calheiros1

1 Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal),
2 Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), CIS-IUL (Portugal)

Background: Among the parental cognitions explaining maladaptive parenting, attributions about a child’s misbehavior seem important. However, there is little research on neglectful parents, and the different patterns of parental attributions associated with child abuse and child neglect are still underexplained. The current study examines parental attributions associated with child abuse and child neglect. Method: Mothers (N = 218) were asked to evaluate vignettes describing child transgressions, half of which were followed by situational information. Child abuse and child neglect were evaluated through mothers’ and professionals’ reports. Results: Preliminary results indicated that the child’s age and maternal socioeconomic status were significantly correlated with attributions and child abuse and neglect scores and thus were controlled in the models. The results from hierarchical regressions indicated that dispositional attributions were associated with higher abuse scores (reported by mothers), even in the presence of situational information. Likewise, dispositional attributions were associated with higher neglect scores (reported by professionals), but the effect was no longer significant in the presence of situational information. Conclusions: These findings contribute to the current socio-cognitive approaches to child maltreatment and provide relevant input for understanding the different attributional mechanisms underlying child abuse and neglect.

Antecedentes: Entre las cogniciones parentales que explican la parentalidad desadaptativa, las atribuciones sobre el comportamiento del niño parecen importantes. Sin embargo, hay pocas investigaciones sobre los padres negligentes, y los patrones de atribuciones parentales que se asocian con el abuso y la negligencia siguen sin explicarse. Éste estudio examina las atribuciones parentales asociadas con el abuso y la negligencia infantil. Método: La muestra estaba compuesta por 218 madres que evaluaron viñetas que describían transgresiones infantiles, la mitad con información situacional. Abuso y negligencia se evaluaron a través de informes de madres y profesionales. Resultados: Los resultados indicaron que la edad del niño y el estatus socioeconómico estaban correlacionados con las atribuciones y con el abuso y negligencia, por lo que fueron controlados en los modelos. Los resultados de las regresiones jerárquicas indicaron que las atribuciones disposicionales se asociaron con el abuso (informes de madres), incluso en presencia de información situacional. Las atribuciones disposicionales se asociaron con la negligencia (informes de profesionales), pero no hay efecto en presencia de información situacional. Conclusiones: Estos hallazgos corroboran a los actuales enfoques sociocognitivos del maltrato infantil y proporcionan aportaciones relevantes para entender los diferentes mecanismos atribucionales que subyacen al abuso y la negligencia infantil.

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