Attributions, parental anger and risk of maltreatment

Aileen M. Pidgeon, Matthew R. Sanders*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In this chapter we examined the differences in the attributions clinically angry, atrisk of child maltreatment parents (CA), and non-angry, not at-risk of child maltreatment parents (NA) make for parent-child interactions. Participants were 82 families with a child aged 2-7 years. There were significant differences between the CA and NA mothers' anger- intensifying attributional style for both negative and ambiguous negative child behaviour and anger-justifying attributions for negative parenting behaviour. The CA mothers reported an elevated level of anger-intensifying attributional style where the CA group tended to attribute negative and ambiguous negative child behaviour to internal and stable causes in the child and rated the behaviour as more intentional and blameworthy. CA mothers were also more likely to attribute blame to their child for their own negative parenting behaviour and perceive the reason for their behaviour was unlikely to change and that their behaviour was part of their personality (e.g. "That's the way I am. I yell and hit my children"). The study suggests that targeting parents' anger-intensifying and angerjustifying attributions may enhance outcomes in parenting interventions and reduce the risk of child maltreatment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationApplied Public Health
Subtitle of host publicationExamining Multifaceted Social or Ecological Problems and Child Maltreatment
EditorsJ. R. Lutzker, J Merrick
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781620813881
ISBN (Print)9781620813560
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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