Project Details


DESCRIPTION: (Adapted From The Investigator's Abstract): The goal of this
project is to examine maltreated children's emotional behavior. Differences
between physically abused, neglected, and nonmaltreated children s emotions
and their cognitions about performance following failure are of central
interest. Individual differences in these behaviors are likely to be
affected by maltreatment. The specific aim is to examine children's
emotional responses and self-evaluations in response to success and failure
as a function of maltreated status and level of punishment. Use of physical
and verbal punishment will be assessed. A second aim of the proposal is to
examine the relation of the punishment variables to agency designations of
maltreatment and to determine whether they independently influence children
s emotional behavior.

The sample will be 270 4- and 5-year olds and their mothers, 180 of whom
will have a positive history of either physical abuse (90) or neglect (90).
The remaining 90 will have no history of maltreatment and serve as a matched
control group. Matching will be done on major demographic variables.
Physical and verbal punishment and child blaming, a specific form of verbal
punishment, will be assessed in all families by maternal report. Child
blaming also will be assessed through observation. Children will experience
both success and failure on experimental - controlled tasks and their
emotional behavior and cognitions about performance will be obtained. To
observe child blaming, mothers and children will be videotaped as they
interact around the child's completing a difficult task. The quality of
maternal statements will be quantified and combined with measures of child
blaming obtained through maternal report. Maltreated children are expected
to differ in the amount of shame and pride shown, with physically abused
children showing the greatest shame, the least pride, and more self-blaming
and pessimistic beliefs about their ability. Punishment is also expected to
promote greater shame, negative affect and more pessimistic cognitions among
children. Physical abuse is hypothesized to be associated with greatest use
of punishment relative to neglect and nonmaltreatment. Children who are
both maltreated and experience high levels of punishment are expected to
show the most negative emotions and cognitions about self-ability and the
least pride.
Effective start/end date9/30/968/31/00


  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse


  • Law


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