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Parent attributions for spouse behavior during negative parent-child interactions Freeman, Wendy 1993

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PARENT ATTRIBUTIONS FOR SPOUSE BEHAVIOR DURINGNEGATIVE PARENT-CHILD INTERACTIONSbyWENDY FREEMANB.A., University of ReginaA THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF ARTSinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Psychology)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAOctober, 1993© Wendy Freeman, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Department of  PsychologyThe University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate^Oot- nber 19, 1993DE-6 (2/88)AbstractThis investigation explored the relation betweenparents' attributions for their spouse's behaviour duringnegative parent-child interactions and parenting alliance.Specifically, it was hypothesized that lower levels ofparenting alliance are associated with more negative causalattributions and greater attributions of responsibility andblame for negative spouse behaviour. The uniquecontribution of attributions to the prediction of parentingalliance was also examined. Thirty-seven mothers and 32fathers of elementary-school-aged boys completed aquestionnaire package including the Parenting AllianceInventory (Abidin & Brunner, 1991). Attributions wereassessed using written stimuli and ratings scales assessingdimensions along which causal and responsibility-blameattributions are formed. Analyses revealed no associationsbetween causal attributions for spouse behaviour andparenting alliance. For mothers, one of threeresponsibility-blame attribution dimensions was associatedwith level of parenting alliance, and for fathers, two ofthree responsibility-blame attribution dimensions wereassociated with lower reports of parenting alliance.Attributions of responsibility-blame, but not causalattributions, were found to predict a marginal amount ofvariance in attributions above and beyond maritaladjustment. The study also explored attributions parentsmade for spouse behaviour relative to attributions made forself behaviour. Along one causal and one responsibility-blame attribution dimension, a parent by target interactioneffect was found, with fathers making more positiveattributions for self behaviour than for spouse behaviour,and mothers making equal or more negative attributions forself behaviour than for spouse behaviour. Also, acrossmothers and fathers, parents made greater attributions offault-blame for their own behaviour than for spousebehaviour.ivTABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract^Table of Contents^  ivList of Tables  viAcknowledgement^  viiIntroduction  1Attribution Theory^  3Review of Literature DescribingMarital Attributions^  11The Relation Between Marriageand Children^  16Rationale for the Current Investigation^ 21Hypotheses^  22Primary Hypothesis^  22Secondary Hypothesis  22Exploratory Question^  22Method^  24Study Design^  24Procedures  25Subjects^  27Measures  28Demographic Information^  28Instructions for Attribution Ratings^ 29Parent-Child Interaction Stimuli^ 29Attribution Ratings^  33Parenting Alliance  35Marital Adjustment^  35Parent Behaviour  36Results^  38Preliminary Analyses^  38Descriptive and Psychometric Statistics^ 39Main Analyses^  40Secondary Analyses  42Exploratory Analyses^  45Discussion^  49Notes  60Tables^  61References  66Appendix A^  72Appendix B  73Appendix C^  74Appendix D  75Appendix E^  76Appendix F  78Appendix G^  81viLIST OF TABLES1. Intercorrelations among attributional dimensionscollapsed across mothers and fathers)^  612. Mean attribution ratings for spouse behaviour^ 623. Correlations between attributions and PAI scoresand between attributions and DAS scores^  634. Mean attribution ratings for own behaviour^ 645. Cell means from Parent (mother, father) by Target(self, spouse) by Group (higher PAI, lower PAI) ANOVAs ^ 65viiAcknowledgementI would like to thank my supervisor, CharlotteJohnston, for her guidance, wisdom, and encouragement overthe past two years. I would also like acknowledge RebeccaCollins and Anita DeLongis for their useful comments at theproposal stage, and Rebecca Collins for sharing her ideasupon completion of this thesis.Thank you mom for your unwavering belief in me.Without your support I could not have achieved this goal,nor continue on.I would like to thank the other people whose supporthas meant so much to me. My father, and other familymembers, my friends back home, especially Sam, Les, andArthur for their encouragement and always welcoming me homewhenever I might drop in. I also thank Taso Fourlas for hisfriendship and belief in my abilities over the years.I also thank my colleagues and wonderful friends inVancouver for their understanding and the emotional supportwe have taken turns giving and receiving over the past twoyears, especially Tracey Earle, Josie Geller, Cathy Maris,Cindy Meston, and Dana Thordarson.Thank you also to Jack Rachman for your humor, andfor reminding me to enjoy life and every opportunity itpresents, to Wolfgang Linden and his crew for making me feela part of their extended lab family, and Delroy Paulhus,retriever of lost thesis files, for being such great companyon the graveyard shift and introducing me to the world of 24hour restaurants.I would like to thank the professors at University ofRegina, especially Lorne Elkin, who took the time to know meand to encourage me to question and experience, not only toachieve.Last but not least, thank you Carmen Stossel for yourclerical assistance, your navigating on recruiting drives,and for being around to offer your support every step of theway.INTRODUCTIONRecently, increasing attention has been paid to therole of cognition in family interactions (e.g., Fincham &Bradbury, 1990; Sigel, 1985). For example, studies ofmarried couples have examined whether the attributions madefor spouse behaviour differ across maritally-distressed andnondistressed couples (e.g., Camper, Jacobson, Holtzworth-Monroe & Schmaling, 1988; Fincham, 1985; Fincham, Beach, &Nelson, 1987; Fincham & Grych, 1991). These studies reportthat maritally-distressed spouses make more negativeattributions for their partner's behaviour thannondistressed spouses. Maritally-distressed spouses viewtheir partner's negative behaviour as due to more internal,stable, and global causes, and as more intentional,blameworthy, and reflective of selfish motivations than donondistressed spouses. Researchers have also begun toexamine the attributions spouses make for their partner'sbehaviour relative to the attributions they make for theirown behaviour (e.g., Fincham, Beach, & Baucom, 1987). Itappears that maritally-distressed spouses exhibit a negativeattribution bias, making less benign attributions for theirspouses' negative behaviour than their own behaviour. Incontrast, research suggests that nondistressed spousesexhibit a positive attribution bias, making more benignattributions for partner behaviour relative to their ownbehaviour (Fincham, Beach, & Baucom, 1987). All of thesestudies, however, have focused on the marital relationship1and attributions made for marital events. The currentresearch examined whether similar attribution biases areexhibited in the parenting context.The present study relates the attributions parents makefor the behaviour of their spouses in parent-childinteractions to parenting alliance. Higher levels ofparenting alliance reflect components such as the parentvaluing his or her spouse's involvement with the child andrespecting the spouse's parenting judgment. My primaryquestion in beginning this program of research is whetherthe degree to which parents make more benign (less"blaming") attributions for spouse behaviour in negativeparent-child interactions is associated with greater levelsof reported parenting alliance. That is, do couples whoreport lower levels of parenting alliance blame theirpartners more for negative parent-child interactions,whereas couples reporting higher levels of parentingalliance make relatively less blaming attributions? Thestudy also relates attributions for spouse behaviour inparent-child interactions to reports of marital adjustment.In an exploratory manner, the present study compares theattributions parents make for the behaviour of themselvesversus their spouses in the context of negative parent-childinteractions. These self-spouse comparisons are made acrosscouples reporting higher and lower levels of parentingalliance.2This thesis begins with an overview of attributiontheory. Studies from the marital and family therapyliteratures describing spouses' attributions for partnerbehaviour will then be described, emphasizing thedemonstrated relationships between spousal attributions andmarital adjustment. Next, the relationship between childbehaviour and components of the marital relationship,including marital adjustment and child-rearing agreement,will be reviewed. The construct of parenting alliance willthen be elaborated, as will its hypothesized relationship toparents' attributions for their spouses' behaviour inparenting situations.Attribution TheoryAttribution theory, an information-processing approachto understanding social behaviour, views behaviour in socialinteractions as dependent on the individual's ongoingassessment of the persons and events around him or her.Essentially, individuals are conceptualized as naivescientists, striving to understand the events which surroundthem (Heider, 1958). Heider (1958) proposed that theinferences people make about the people and events in theirenvironment influence their behaviour and that thesebeliefs, whether accurate or not, must be considered tounderstand behaviour in social interactions. Somesubsequent theorists have focused on the process ofattribution formation (e.g., Jones and Davis' (1965) modelof correspondent inference, Kelly's (1967) covariation3model). Others have focused on the form and consequences ofattributions. For example, Weiner (1979) outlines a numberof dimensions along which causal attributions are made(i.e., locus, stability, controllability). According toWeiner's model, inferences made along the various dimensionsinfluence behavioural responses via their impact on theperceiver's affective response to the observed behaviour.Empirical studies have supported this relationship betweenattributions and subsequent affective and behaviouralresponses (e.g., Dix & Grusec, 1985; Fincham & Bradbury,1992; Larrance & Twentymen, 1983; Murphy & Alexander, 1991;Weiner, 1980).The study reported here follows from attributionresearch such as that of Weiner (1980) and is concerned withthe dimensions along which attributions may be formed. Twotypes of parents' attributions for spouse behaviour innegative parent-child interactions were examined ondimensions reflecting attributions of causality andresponsibility-blame. Causal attributions refer toexplanations about the factors that produce an event. Asproposed by Weiner (1979), stability, locus, andcontrollability are three dimensions of causal attributions.Weiner proposes that inferences about a cause's stabilityinfluence affective and behavioural responses by determiningexpectations about the reoccurrence of the behaviour.Inferences about causal locus indicate whether the cause ofa behaviour is perceived as reflecting some characteristic4of the actor versus the context or factors external to theactor. Finally, inferences about control reflect the extentto which the cause can be influenced by sources internal orexternal to the actor. Elaborating on Weiner's (1979)model, Fincham and Emery (1988) have demonstrated thatjudgments on the dimension of control serve as a summaryindex of responsibility-related decisions and attributions.That is, when one can potentially control behaviour thatviolates a standard, one can be held accountable for thatbehaviour. Supporting the relationship between thedimension of control and responsibility attributions, thecorrelation between control and other causal attributions issignificantly lower than that between control andattributions of responsibility (Fincham & Emery, 1988).Therefore, in this research, control was not examined as acomponent of a composite index of causal attributions. Afinal causal attribution dimension that has receivedconsiderable research attention is globality. Decisionsregarding causal globality reflect the extent to which thecause of a behaviour influences other events as opposed toinfluencing only one particular event (Abramson, Seligman, &Teasdale, 1978). In the current investigation, causalattributions were assessed using the dimensions of locus,stability, and globality.As noted above, the attribution of responsibilityinvolves making a judgment about an individual'saccountability for an event. People are usually not held5accountable for negative behaviour unless they possesscertain capacities (e.g., the capacity to appreciate thatthe behaviour was inappropriate), and limitations in suchcapacities have been found to have an important mitigatinginfluence on adults' judgments of children's responsibility(e.g., Dix & Grusec, 1985; Fincham & Roberts, 1985).However, adults are typically viewed as possessing thenecessary capacities for them to be held responsible fortheir actions (Fincham & Roberts, 1985). It is argued thatthe essential criteria for the determination ofresponsibility are that the behaviour is intentional andfreely chosen or performed voluntarily (Hart, 1968).Fincham and Bradbury (1992) used items assessingintentionality, selfish vs. unselfish motivation, andwhether the behaviour was justified by mitigatingcircumstances to arrive at an index of responsibility. Thepresent investigation measured responsibility with ratingscales assessing the extent to which spouse behaviour wasperceived as intentional and freely chosen in the context ofnegative parent-child interactions.Blame attributions are evaluative judgments about faultand liability for censure (Shaver, 1985). Responsibility isconceptually distinguished from blame in that responsibilityreflects a judgment which is made before an account of theevent has been given, whereas blame is assigned after anaccount has been provided and subsequently evaluated by theperceiver (Shaver, 1985). However, Fincham and Bradbury6(1990) note that in close relationships, parents and spousesmay readily assign blame to their partners or children inthe absence of their input or account of the event. Toassess blame attributions, previous research has askedsubjects directly to rate the extent to which their spousewas blameworthy for his or her behaviour, the extent towhich the spouse was at fault for what he or she did, andwhether the spouse should not have acted as he or she did(Fincham & Bradbury, 1992). The present investigationmeasured blame via rating scales assessing the extent towhich the spouse was at fault for his or her behaviour andthe extent to which he or she was to blame for thebehaviour.In summary, distinctions can be made among causal,responsibility, and blame attributions on conceptualgrounds. According to the entailment model (Dix & Grusec,1985), these three types of attributions are likely tounfold in an orderly sequence. That is, assignment of blameis presupposed by a judgment of responsibility which, inturn, is presupposed by attributions regarding the cause ofthe event. For example, John forgot to turn off the stove,thereby causing dinner to burn (causal attribution). Giventhat John is an adult and appreciates that leaving the stoveon would burn dinner, he is held accountable for burningdinner (responsibility attribution). Furthermore, given thatJohn has no good excuse for forgetting to turn off thestove, he is perceived as blameworthy for burning dinner7(blame attribution). Fincham and Bradbury (1992)hypothesized that, because anger in response to another'snegative behaviour is typically instigated by a valuejudgment, attributions of blame would be the proximal causeof anger and would be most highly correlated with anger.Because blame is presupposed by the attribution ofresponsibility, which in turn is presupposed by a causalattribution, the investigators proposed that attributions ofresponsibility would correlate moderately with anger, andthat attributions of cause would correlate the least withanger. Fincham and Bradbury found the predicted pattern ofcorrelations between anger and type of attribution in acommunity sample of 49 couples. However, the correlationsinvolving attributions of responsibility and of blame werenot significantly different. The overall pattern of resultssupported the distinctions between causal and blameattributions and between causal and responsibilityattributions, but offered limited support for thedistinction between responsibility and blame. Consequently,it was proposed, for the purposes of the presentinvestigation, that a composite index of "responsibility-blame" attributions would be calculated by summing parents'responses across the rating scales assessing intentionality,voluntariness, fault, and blameworthiness.Recently, investigators have used an attributionalframework to examine various aspects of family interactionsand functioning. For example, there is empirical evidence8to support a model of discipline in which parent behaviouris adjusted from one child behaviour to the next on thebasis of parents' appraisals of why their children behave asthey do. Dix and Grusec (1985) found that parents were moreupset with child misbehaviour when they perceived the causeof the behaviour as internal to the child, intentional, andcontrollable. The more parents reported they were upset,the more important they thought it was to respond to thechild's behaviour. Similarly, Dix, Ruble, and Zambarano(1989) reported that when mothers attributed responsibilityto their children for negative behaviour, mothers were moreupset by the behaviour and more likely to endorse power-assertive discipline strategies. MacKinnon, Lamb, Belsky,and Baum (1990) examined the relation between attributionsand behaviour for mothers and their 7 to 9 year-old sons.They found that when both mothers and sons perceived theother's behaviour to be negatively intended, their parent-child interaction was more coercive than when only oneperson in the dyad perceived negative intent. However, evenone person perceiving negative intent was associated withincreased coerciveness.Similar relations between attributions and reactionshave been demonstrated in the marital literature. Forexample, Fincham, Beach, and Nelson (1987) found thatattributions of responsibility for spouses' behaviourpredicted affective impact and intended responses to thebehaviour. Fincham and Bradbury (1992) demonstrated that9responsibility attributions were related to wives' reportedanger on a questionnaire measure of attributions inrelationships and to the amount of anger displayed during aproblem-solving interaction with their spouse. In sum,across a number of studies it appears that maritally-distressed spouses make attributions which accentuate theimpact of negative marital events (e.g., they locate thecause of the negative event within their partner), whereasnondistressed spouses make attributions which minimize theimpact of negative events (e.g., they do not locate thecause in their partner) (e.g., Fincham, Beach & Nelson,1987; Fincham & Bradbury, 1992). Negatively-biasedattributions are presumed to accentuate the impact ofnegative behaviours by leading spouses to be upset by thebehaviour and to respond with punitive behaviour. Thisdisplay of negative affect and punitive responses is,unfortunately, likely to be perceived by the partner asintentional and to elicit a similar negative response(Fincham, Beach, & Nelson, 1987). This type of interactionamong family members, a coercive spiral, has been describedat length by Patterson (1982).Given the literatures describing the importance ofattributions in both parent-child and marital relationships,the present study combined these two domains and examinedthe causal and responsibility-blame attributions made byparents for their spouse's and their own behaviour in thecontext of negative parent-child interactions. These types10of attributions were chosen for investigation because theyhave demonstrated an important role in determining theaffective impact of events and behavioural responses toevents occurring within the family context.Review of the Literature Describing Marital Attributions Much of the early literature concerning maritalfunctioning focused on the quality of the relationship(Fincham, Bradbury, & Scott, 1990). Early studies examinedthe association between marital quality and variousdemographic, individual difference, and family variables(Barry, 1970). In the 1970s, the focus shifted to the studyof marital interactions in distressed and nondistressedcouples (e.g., Gottman, 1979). Discrepancies found betweenspouses' reports of each other's behaviour and betweenspouses' reports and observational data led researchers toassign importance to the interpretations spouses' wereoffering for each other's behaviour (Weiss & Heyman, 1990).This line of research has been expanded in the more recentliterature where researchers have begun to investigate linksamong cognitive, emotional, and behavioural factors in aneffort to more fully understand marital functioning (e.g.,Bradbury & Fincham, 1988; Gottman & Levenson, 1985).As noted previously, much of the research on cognitionin the marital literature has focused on the attributions orexplanations that spouses make for marital events. Most ofthis attributional research has focused on spouse behavioursclassified as either positive (e.g. your spouse compliments11you) or negative (your spouse criticizes you). Earlystudies focused on causal attributions for partnerbehaviour, seeking to establish that causal attributionswere related to marital adjustment. In these studies,researchers asked maritally-distressed and nondistressedspouses to identify the cause of their partners' negativebehaviour and to rate the degree to which the cause waslocated in the partner (locus), remained constant over time(stability), and affected many areas of the marriage(globality). Across numerous studies, it has been foundthat maritally-distressed spouses attribute their partner'snegative behaviour to internal causes whereas nondistressedspouses tend to make external attributions for negativepartner behaviour. For positive partner behaviour, on theother hand, maritally-distressed spouses have been found tomake more external attributions whereas the attributions ofnondistressed spouses are more internal (e.g., Fincham,1985; Fincham & Grych, 1991; Fincham & O'Leary, 1983).Regarding the global-specific causal dimension, the samestudies have found that distressed spouses, relative tonondistressed spouses, rate the cause of negative partnerbehaviour as more global and the cause of positive partnerbehaviour as more specific. However, clear differences havenot been found on the stable-unstable causal dimension(Fincham, 1985). One explanation for this lack of effect issamples often contain maritally-distressed couples who areseeking treatment. Such couples may expect treatment-12induced change in marital events and be less likely to ratethe causes of negative partner behaviour as stable (Bradbury& Fincham, 1990).Beyond the basic causal dimensions, attributions ofresponsibility and blame have also proven central tounderstanding marital interactions (Fincham, 1985).Fincham, Beach, and Nelson (1987) investigated attributionsfor spouse behaviour in 40 distressed couples seekingmarital therapy and 40 nondistressed community couples. Inthis study, subjects were asked to assign blame/praise forspouse behaviours, to indicate the extent to which theirspouses' behaviour was intended to be positive/negative, andto rate the extent to which the behaviour was motivated byselfish concerns. Results indicated that for negativespouse behaviour, distressed couples inferred more negativeintent and selfish motivation, and attributed more blame tothe partner relative to nondistressed spouses. Distressedcouples also rated their spouses as less praise-worthy forpositive behaviour. Regression analyses indicated thatattributions of responsibility and blame accounted foralmost all the explained variance in self-reported affectiveimpact of the spouse's behaviour and the likelihood ofbehavioural responses to the spouse's behaviour whencontrolling for marital adjustment (Fincham, Beach, &Nelson, 1987).A number of methodological concerns have been raisedconcerning the studies of attributions and marital13adjustment. For example, it has been suggested that theassociation between attributions and marital adjustment maybe an artifact of common method variance. Gottman andLevenson (1984) noted that couples reporting lower levels ofmarital adjustment might desire to present themselves in aconsistent manner across marital and attributionquestionnaires. However, Holtzworth-Monroe and Jacobson(1985) found that, like questionnaire ratings, attributionscoded from open-ended responses to partner behaviour werealso associated with marital adjustment. A relatedmethodological concern has been the possibility that theassociation of attributions and marital adjustment is theresult of a third variable, namely depression.Investigating this possibility, Fincham, Beach, and Bradbury(1989) found that responsibility attributions forhypothetical partner behaviour continued to account for asignificant portion of the variance in marital adjustment,even with levels of depression held statistically constant.Finally, to address concerns regarding the use ofhypothetical partner behaviours in attributionquestionnaires, Fincham and Beach (1988) demonstrated thatthe same pattern of responses is found for maritally-distressed versus nondistressed spouses when attributionratings are elicited in response to both hypothetical andreal partner behaviours.Despite the demonstrated relationship betweenattributions for spouse behaviour and marital adjustment,14the direction of this relationship has yet to beconclusively demonstrated. However, experimental, clinicaloutcome, and longitudinal study data all suggest thatattributions influence marital adjustment rather than theopposite. For example, Fincham and Bradbury (1987) foundthat causal and responsibility attributions for negativespouse behaviours were related to both concurrent maritaladjustment and to marital adjustment assessed 10 to 12months later, even with the level of earlier adjustmentcontrolled. In contrast, marital adjustment did not predictlater attributions for neither husbands nor wives. Also,manipulations of attributions for negative spouse behaviourhave been found to influence the subsequent behaviour ofdistressed spouses (Fincham & Bradbury, 1988).In summary, the attributions spouses make for maritalevents are related to their marital adjustment. Comparedwith happily-married spouses, maritally-distressed spousesmake causal and responsibility attributions that are likelyto increase the impact of negative spouse behaviours (e.g.,by attributing them to internal and global characteristicsof their partner, and seeing the partner as responsible anddeserving of blame) and to decrease the impact of positivespouse behaviours (e.g., by attributing them to external,specific, situational causes).Recently, Bradbury and Fincham (1990) have pointed outthe need to broaden the current perspective on attributionalprocesses in marriage to include a comparison of the15attributions made for partner behaviour and those made forone's own behaviour. It is proposed that the attributionsspouses make for their own behaviour serve as a standardagainst which to judge and evaluate partner behaviours(Fincham & Bradbury, 1990). The self-other distinction andpossible biases in attributions that result from thisdistinction may be particularly fruitful to investigate inthe context of marital relationships given that"attributional bias sows the seeds of interpersonal discord"(Jones, 1976, p. 304). Fincham, Beach, and Baucom (1987)have reported some empirical evidence of self versus otherdivergences in spouses' attributions for themselves andtheir partners. Furthermore, these self versus otherdivergences appear dependent on level of marital adjustment.Fincham, Beach, and Baucom found that nondistressed spousesexhibited a positive attributional bias, making more benigncausal and responsibility attributions for partner behaviourthan for self behaviour. In contrast, distressed spousesexhibited a negative attributional bias, making less benignattributions for partner behaviour relative to selfbehaviour. Thus, self-spouse distinctions appear as apromising avenue to explore in understanding howattributions relate to marital functioning.The Relation Between Marriage and Child Behaviour. Several reviews have concluded that there exists arelationship between marital distress and the severity andfrequency of child behaviour problems (e.g., Emery, 1982;16Grych & Fincham, 1990). Despite the pervasiveness of thelink, a recent review by Jouriles, Farris, and McDonald(1991) found that 97% of the correlations between indices ofmarital functioning and child behaviour were below .50,accounting for less than a quarter of the variance in eitherconstruct. In addition, despite the numerous studiesrelating marital adjustment to child outcomes, themechanisms underlying this association remain elusive (Grych& Fincham, 1990). Jouriles et al. (1991) noted that thereare many aspects of the marital relationship (e.g. child-rearing disagreement, sexual intimacy) and it is unlikelythat they are all equally related to child behaviour.Jouriles et al. (1991) also proposed that to the degree thatmarital distress exerts its effect on children viadisruptions in parenting, it may not affect all childrenequally, because it may not disrupt all spouses in theirfunctioning as parents.In exploring the relationship between marital and childfunctioning, researchers have found that measures ofspecific aspects of the marital relationship are betterpredictors of behaviour problems in children than aregeneral indices of marital adjustment. In particular, itappears that aspects of the marital relationship associatedwith parenting are more strongly related to child outcomesthan more general indices of marital adjustment (e.g., Dadds& Powell, 1991; Johnston, 1993; Jouriles et al., 1991). Forexample, Dadds and Powell (1991) reported that inter-parent17conflict in child-rearing was a more powerful predictor ofaggressive child behaviour than a more general maritalmeasure. Jouriles and colleagues (1991) also found thatparental disagreements about child-rearing were related tochild behaviour problems, even after controlling for generalmarital adjustment. Johnston (1993), using a dynamicmeasure of child-rearing disagreement which involved theobservation of couples as they discussed how they wouldrespond to various child behaviour problems, also reported astronger relationship between child-rearing agreement andchild behaviour than between marital adjustment and childbehaviour. In that study, scores on the Short MaritalAdjustment Test (Kimmel & Vanderveen, 1974) did notdistinguish the parents of disruptive versus nonproblemchildren whereas parents' responses during the child-rearingdiscussion task did discriminate between these two groups.Consistent with previous research, this study suggests thatthe ability to co-ordinate child-rearing efforts and maritaladjustment function as relatively distinct constructs, withaspects of the couples' child-rearing appearing to be a moreimportant feature of families of disruptive children thanmarital adjustment.Weissman and Cohen (1985) differentiate the parentingand the marital relationships. They theorize that themarital relationship pertains to "the libidinal object needsof the spouses for each other" (p. 25), and the parentingalliance consists of "the capacity of a spouse to18acknowledge, respect, and value the parenting roles andtasks of the partner" (p. 26). Higher levels of parentingalliance reflect the greater extent to which each parentdesires to communicate with the other, is invested in thechild, values the other parent's involvement with the child,and most importantly, respects the judgments of the otherparent (Abidin & Brunner, 1991; Weissman & Cohen, 1985).Given its emphasis on perception of the other parent'sbehaviour and respect for the other parent's parentingdecisions, the construct of parenting alliance appearslikely to stand as a predictor of the attributions parentsform in response to their spouse's parenting behaviour.Parallel to findings in the marital literature wherenegative attributions about marital events are associatedwith lower levels of marital adjustment, parents' negativeattributions for their spouse's parenting behaviour ininteractions with the child may be associated with lowerlevelof parenting alliance. A model is proposed in whichboth parenting alliance and attributions for spousebehaviour are ultimately related to child outcome. However,the first step in testing this model is to test theassociation between parenting alliance and attributions.A few recent studies have examined the construct ofparenting alliance. One study (Frank et al., 1991) assessedwhether higher levels of this construct were associated withlower levels of individual parent stress in families ofphyhysically-ill children. To assess parenting alliance,19Frank et al. employed the 31-item, Parenting Alliance Scaledeveloped by Frank, Jacobson, and Avery (cited in Frank etal., 1991). This scale is comprised of items generated fromCohen and Weissman's theoretical discussion of the parentingalliance. Frank et al. found that fathers with lower levelsof parenting alliance reported significantly more stressthan fathers reporting higher levels of parenting alliance.Abidin and Brunner (1991), using the Parenting AllianceInventory which they developed, also report a significant,negative association between parenting alliance andparenting stress. Higher levels of parenting allianceassociated with lower levels of parenting stress for bothmothers and fathers. These authors speculated that thepresence of a strong parenting alliance may serve to reduceparenting stress. Abidin and Brunner also noted that,conversely, lower levels of parenting stress may result in astronger parenting alliance. Recent studies examining theparenting alliance have also linked parents' scores on theParenting Alliance Scale to more optimal family functioningin families of developmentally-disabled children (Floyd,cited in Frank et al., 1991) and to reports of paternalinvolvement in childcare (Pirsch, 1990). Laub (1990)demonstrated that parents' problem-solving behaviours duringa discussion about the discipline of a child behaviourproblem were associated with parents' perceptions of theparenting alliance. Also, scores on Abidin and Brunner'sParenting Alliance Inventory have been found to correlate20significantly with child outcome measures of positiveadjustment, popularity, social competence, and self-esteem(Brunner, 1992). In sum, the construct of parentingalliance appears related to measures of individual parentand child adjustment, as well as more global measures offamily functioning. To date, however, parenting alliancehas not been linked to parents' attributions for eachother's behaviour.For the current investigation, it was proposed thatlower levels of parenting alliance would be associated withparents making more negative attributions for their spouse'sparenting behaviour. On the other hand, higher levels ofparenting alliance were hypothesized to be associated withattributions which cast the spouse's parenting behaviour ina more positive light.Rationale For The Current Investigation The primary goal of this study was to determine whetherparenting alliance (PA) is associated with the attributionsparents make for their spouse's behaviour in negativeinteractions with their child. Secondly, the relationshipbetween attributions for the spouse's parenting behaviourand marital adjustment was examined. Whether PA makes acontribution to the prediction of parents' attributions forspouse behaviour above and beyond the prediction afforded bymarital adjustment was also investigated. Finally, whetherparents reporting higher and lower levels of PA thinkdifferently about the parent's role in negative parent-child21interactions when the interactions involve their partnersversus themselves was explored. The following hypotheseswere addressed:PRIMARY HYPOTHESES 1. There is a negative association between parents'negative attributions for spouse behaviour duringproblematic parent-child interactions and PA. Parentsreporting lower levels of PA exhibit more negative causalattributions and greater attributions of responsibility-blame for negative spouse behaviour than parents reportinghigher levels of PA.2. The extent to which parents make negativeattributions for their spouses is inversely related tomarital adjustment. Subjects reporting higher levels ofmarital adjustment make more benign causal andresponsibility-blame attributions for negative spousebehaviour than subjects reporting lower levels of maritaladjustment.SECONDARY HYPOTHESIS 3. PA accounts for variance in the attributionsparents make for negative spouse behaviour above and beyondthat accounted for by marital adjustment.EXPLORATORY OUESTIONThe current investigation also compared theattributions parents make for the behaviour of themselvesversus their spouses in parent-child interactions acrossparenting couples reporting higher and lower levels of22parenting alliance. Given only preliminary evidence ofself-other differences in the marital literature, nospecific predictions were made regarding self versus spouseattributions across levels of parenting alliance.Although no predictions were made regarding the effectsof parent gender on attributions, this variable was examinedin all analyses.23METHODStudy DesignTo test the hypotheses of this study, written stimulusmaterials were used to elicit parents' attributions fortheir spouses' and their own behaviour in negative parent-child interactions. Parents were asked to imagine theirspouse and their child and themselves and their child invarious situations in which a negative parent-childinteraction occured. After reading each scenario, parentswere asked to respond to a series of questions regardingtheir attributions for the cause of the negative parentbehaviour within the parent-child interaction and the extentto which the parent was responsible-blameworthy for thebehaviour. To test the hypothesized association betweenattributions and PA, correlations were calculated betweenattributions for spouse behaviour and reports of parentingalliance. These correlations were calculated separately formothers and fathers. Similar correlations were calculatedbetween attributions and reports of marital adjustment.To address the secondary hypothesis, regressionanalyses were performed to determine whether parentingalliance made a significant, unique contribution to theprediction of attributions for spouse behaviour aftercontrolling for marital adjustment.Finally, a 2 X 2 X 2 (mother/father, self/spouse, andhigher PA/lower PA) multivariate analysis of variance wasemployed to test the exploratory hypothesis. The mother-24father and self-spouse comparisons were conducted within-subjects, and a between-subjects comparison was made forcouples reporting higher and lower levels of parentingalliance. The causal and responsibility-blame attributiondimensions served as dependent variables.Procedures Participants were recruited through notices placed onpublic notice boards in community centers, swimming pools,and libraries, as well as advertisements placed in localnewspapers and a local parenting magazine. Step-familieswere excluded from the sample. To allow for a range offunctioning, families were not excluded on the basis ofparent or child involvement in psychological treatment.Recruiting notices instructed interested parents totelephone the principal investigator. Upon initialtelephone contact, parents were provided with a rationaleand overview of the present study and details about whatparticipation in the study would entail. Basic descriptiveinformation gathered during this telephone contactdetermined eligibility for participation. Eligible familieshad at least one male child in the home between the ages of5 and 12 years. Elementary-school aged boys were chosen toallow comparability with the age and gender of most targetchildren for whom families seek mental health services(Offord et al., 1987). It was required that both the motherand father were the biological parents of the target child.Because the instructions, stimulus materials, and25questionnaires required a minimum level of competence inEnglish for completion, parents who had completed less than10 years of schooling were not included in the study.However, no subjects who returned completed questionnairepackages were eliminated from the study for this reason.Parents with more than one male child between the ages of 5and 12 years were specifically instructed to complete theattribution questionnaires with the oldest child in that agerange in mind, and mothers and fathers were reminded tothink of the same child when completing the questionnaires.Mothers and fathers were asked to complete allquestionnaires independently and to seal the completedmaterials in return envelopes before discussing themtogether. A separate return envelop was provided for eachparent. Subjects were also informed that they had the rightto withdraw from the study at any time, and that the returnof completed questionnaires was indicative of consent forparticipation.Following the initial telephone contact, familiesagreeing to participate in the study were mailed anexplanatory cover letter (Appendix A), a demographicinformation sheet (Appendix B), instructions for theattribution ratings (Appendix C), an attributionquestionnaire consisting of stimulus situations andattribution questions (see Appendix D), the ParentingAlliance Inventory (Abidin & Brunner, 1991) (Appendix E),the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (Spanier, 1976) (Appendix F),26Overreactivity subscale from the Parenting Scale (Arnold etal., 1991) (Appendix G), and two stamped, self-addressedreturn envelopes. Parents were instructed to complete thequestionnaires in the above order. The questionnaire packetalso contained questionnaires not addressed in this study(e.g., a measure of parenting self-esteem) that were filledout by parents following completion of the other measures.Subjects To date, 79 parenting couples have been mailedquestionnaire packages. A cutoff date for returnedquestionnaires to be included in analyses for this thesiswas established, and by that date, completed questionnaireshad been returned by 37 mothers and 32 fathers. For all 32fathers, the spouses' questionnaires were also received bythe cutoff date.The 37 mothers ranged in age from 31 to 48 years (M =36.89) and fathers ranged from 29 to 52 years (M = 39.22).The parents represented a variety of ethnic backgrounds.Looking at mothers, 32% identified themselves as Canadian,51% as of European descent, and 12% as of other ethnicities(Chinese, East Indian, Egyptian, and Singhalese). Fivepercent did not respond to the ethnicity item on thedemographic information sheet. For fathers, 38% wereidentified as Canadian or French Canadian, 46% wereidentified as of European descent, 5% were identified as ofEast Indian descent, and for 11% of fathers, the ethnicityitem on the family demographic sheet was not completed.27Family socioeconomic status ranged from 1 to 5 on theHollingshead Four Factor Index of Social Status(Hollingshead, 1975), with an average status of 2.39,corresponding to middle class. The average number of yearsmarried for this sample was 11.74, and the average age ofthe target child was 8.38 years. The number of children ineach family ranged from 1 to 3, with a median of 2. Sixteenpercent of the target children were only children, and 90%of the children with siblings were the oldest male child inthe family. For each family, the demographic informationsheet completed by mothers also asked whether the parentshad ever sought psychological help for themselves or theirchildren. Thirty percent of mothers reported they had, atsome time, sought psychological help for themselves (e.g.,depression, counselling after miscarriage), and 30% reportedthat they and their husband had received maritalcounselling. Five percent of mothers reported that theirspouse had sought help for their own psychological problems(e.g., drug addiction). Finally, 22% of mothers reportedthey had sought help for problems with the target child(e.g., assessment of attentional difficulties).Measures Demographic Information. Each family was asked toprovide each parent's age, occupation, highest level ofeducation, and ethnicity. Each family was also asked toprovide the number of years they had been married, the ageand gender of their child(ren), and whether both parents28were biological parents of the target child. Thisdemographic information was used to confirm eligibility ofsubjects and to calculate family socioecomonic status. Nofamilies who completed questionnaire packages failed to meetthe eligibility criteria. Finally, families were asked toindicate whether they had ever sought help for child orparent psychological problems.Instructions for attribution ratings. Prior to readingand responding to the stimulus situations, parents read acover sheet providing detailed instructions for theattribution ratings. Parents were asked to read eachscenario imagining that the situation involved either theirspouse and their child or themselves and the child. Parentswere requested to think of each situation as a separateevent, and were reminded that there are no right or wronganswers for the ratings.Parent-child interaction stimuli. To assess parentattributions for negative parent-child interactions, eachparent read eight similar scenarios depicting coerciveparent-child interactions (four involving the respondent andchild, and four involving the respondent's spouse with thesame child). Responses were aggregated across the multiplestimulus situations to enhance stability of scores and toreduce the inflence of atypical responses.Negative parent-child interactions were used as stimulibecause the marital literature has shown that unsolicitedattributions are more likely to occur for negative rather29than positive partner behaviour (Camper et al., 1988;Holtzworth-Monroe & Jacobson, 1985) and that attributionsfor negative events appear more strongly and consistentlyrelated to marital adjustment relative to those for positiveevents (e.g., Baucom et al., 1989; Fincham et al., 1987).Also, negative interactions are more relevant in theclinical context. Hypothetical stimuli were used because oftheir advantage in providing a standard and controllablestimuli event to all subjects. Past research has found thatspouses' patterns of responding to hypothetical events arecomparable to their responses to real events (Fincham &Beach, 1988).Specific child and parent behaviours depicted in theinteraction stimuli were chosen from a coding scheme forhome observations of aversive behaviour among members ofdistressed families (Patterson, 1982). Given the desire toselect behaviours common enough so that most parents couldimagine them occurring in their family, only behaviours withrelatively high base rates as demonstrated in previousstudies were selected (Reid, 1978). Child behaviours weredisapproval, negativism, and destructiveness and parentbehaviours were disapproval, negativism, and giving negativecommands. Scenarios were written to be equivalent in termsof the consequences of the child's behaviour for the parent(i.e., the parent is directly affected by the child'sbehaviour in all scenarios) and in setting (all behavioursoccur in the home). Also, scenarios were written to be30similar in format and to not indicate the cause of theparent's or child's behaviours in the interaction. Twenty-one stimuli scenarios were initially pilot tested usingsample of 15 male and female university undergraduates and 7mothers of 2 to 18 year old children to ensure thatscenarios were perceived as realistic, age-appropriate, easyto visualize, and equivalent in terms of parent and childnegativity. Subjects in the pilot sample were also asked torate the extent to which the negative interaction was causedby something about the parent versus the child, and theextent to which the interaction occurred because ofsomething about the situation. Stimuli were revised asindicated by respondents' ratings to make the childrenappear elementary-school aged, to equate the interactants'negativity across situations, to reduce situational causesof the interaction, and to have the cause of the interactionattributed more to the parent than to the child. Therevised stimuli were then pilot tested on a larger sample of27 undergraduate and graduate students and 6 parents.Ratings obtained in this pilot study guided the finalselection of stimuli for use in the attributionquestionnaire.Specifically, respondents in the final pilot study wereasked to indicate on 10-point Likert scales, "How realisticis this scenario", "How easy is it to imagine thisscenario", "How negative is the parent's behaviour", "Hownegative is the child's behaviour", "To what extent was this31negative interaction caused by something about the parentvs. something about the child", and "To what extent was thisnegative interaction caused by something about thesituation", Respondents were also asked to indicate the agegroup which best described the child in each scenario:preschooler, elementary-school aged, or adolescent. Basedon these ratings, the eight scenarios that were rated asreflecting an elementary-school-aged child, and as mostequivalent in terms of causal locus and child and parentnegativity, were chosen for the study. The mean parentnegativity score across the eight chosen scenarios, on ascale from 1 (not at all negative) to 10 (very negative),was 7.12 based on student ratings and 7.15 based on parentratings. The mean child negativity scores were 6.32 and6.77 for students and parents, respectively. Ratings of theextent to which the interaction was caused by somethingabout the parent vs. something about the child on a scaleranging from 1 (something about the child) to 10 (somethingabout the parent) averaged 6.29 among students and 6.31among parents. Ratings of the extent to which theinteraction was caused by something about the situation on ascale ranging from 1 (little to do with the situation) to 10(much to do with the situation) averaged 3.85 among studentsand 4.30 among parents. Ratings to assess each scenario'srealism, using a scale ranging from 1 (not at all realistic)to 10 (very realistic), averaged 6.98 among students and6.33 among parents. The children in the scenarios were32rated as elementary-school-aged children by 68% of thestudent sample and 73% of the parent sample.As noted above, within each couple, each parentresponded to eight scenarios, four worded to describeinteractions involving themselves and their child and fourscenarios worded to depict interactions between their spouseand the same child. In order to account for the influenceof order effects, one-half of the families first read fourscenarios in which the parent was to imagine him or herselfand the child (self scenarios) and then four scenariosdepicting interactions between their spouse and the samechild (spouse scenarios). This order was reversed in theremaining families. Self and spouse scenarios were notmixed together in random order because it was felt thatshifting back and forth between the two types of scenarioswould inhibit the respondents' ability to vividly imaginehim or herself and his or her spouse in each situation.However, the specific interactions assigned as either selfor spouse scenarios were varied across families. Finally,the scenarios within each section (self-child, spouse-child)were presented in random order.Attribution Ratings. After reading each scenario,parents completed ratings on seven, 10-point scalesreflecting attributional dimensions which comprise causaland responsibility-blame attribution types. The first threeratings assessed respondents' causal attributions for theparent behaviour in the negative interaction. Locus was33assessed by asking parents rate "to what extent was thisbehaviour caused by something about you/your spouse versussomething about the situation?" on a scale of 1 to 10ranging from "something about you/your spouse" to "somethingabout the situation". Globality was assessed by asking "towhat extent was this behaviour caused by something that willinfluence your/your spouse's behaviour in other interactionswith the child?" on a 10-point scale ranging from"influences most interactions" to "influences just thisparticular interaction". Stability was assessed by asking"to what extent was this behaviour caused by something thatis lasting vs. a one-time thing?" on a 10-point scaleranging from "lasting" to "a one-time thing". Parents werealso asked to rate the extent to which they felt their ownor their spouse's behaviour was intended to be negative on a10-point scale ranging from "not at all intentional" to"very intentional", the extent to which the behaviour wasfreely chosen on a 10-point scale ranging from "not at allfreely chosen" to "very freely chosen", the extent to whichthe parent or the spouse is blameworthy for the behaviour ona scale ranging from "not at all to blame" to "very much toblame, and the extent to which the parent is at fault forbehaving as he or she did on a scale ranging from "not atall at fault" to "very much at fault".As part of another investigation, after making theabove ratings, parents also completed ratings assessing34their attributions for the cause of the child's behaviourduring the negative parent-child interactions.Parenting Alliance. Parenting alliance was assessedfor each parent using the Parenting Alliance Inventory (PAI;Abidin & Brunner, 1991), a 30 item, self-report measurewhich reflects the extent to which parents respect the otherparent's judgment, value the other parent's involvement, andbelieve in the other parent's confidence in them. On thismeasure, parents respond to each item on a 5-point Likertscale ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree",with a minimum possible score of 30 and a maximum of 150.Higher scores indicate higher levels of parenting alliance.Scores on the PAI have been found to display a pattern ofcorrelations suggestive of the measure's concurrent andpredictive validity. PAI scores are correlated with scoreson measures of parenting stress and child behaviour, but notsocial desirability. Relatively low correlations betweenthe PAI and marital adjustment scores for both mothers andfathers (r=.20 and r=.25, respectively) suggest that the twoconstructs are relatively independent and are likelymeasuring different aspects of the family (Abidin & Brunner,1991). The measure has excellent internal consistency, witha Cronbach's coefficient alpha of .97, and no significantdifferences were found between mothers' and fathers'responses (Abidin & Brunner, 1991; Brunner, 1992).Marital Adjustment. Marital adjustment was assessedusing the Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS; Spanier, 1976), a 3235item, self-report questionnaire completed by each parent.This measure reflects dyadic satisfaction, dyadic cohesion,dyadic consensus, and affectional expression (Spanier,1976). In this study, the measure's total score, which cantheoretically range from 0 to 151, was used as a generalmeasure of marital adjustmentl. Overall, the measure hasexcellent internal consistency, with a Cronbach'scoefficient alpha of .96 for the total scale, and concurrentvalidity with the Locke-Wallace Marital Adjustment Scale(Spanier, 1976). Scores on this overall index of maritaladjustment have been shown to be capable of discriminatingbetween maritally-distressed and nondistressed couples(Sharpley'El Cross, 1982; Spanier, 1976).Parent Behaviour. Parent behaviour was assessed foreach parent using the Overreactivity subscale of theParenting Scale (Arnold et al., 1991), a self-report measuredesigned to assess parents' problems in discipliningchildren. The Overreactivity subscale was selected becauseof its similiarities to the types of parent behaviourportrayed in the stimulus scenarios. This subscale consistsof 10 items rated on 7-point bipolar scales, withineffective and effective parenting strategies serving aspoles. Parents are instructed to rate the items to reflecttheir style of parenting during the past 2 months. TheOverreactivity subscale has adequate internal consistency,with a Cronbach's coefficient alpha of .81 and a test -retestcorrelation coefficient of .83. Scores on this subscale36have been found to correlate modestly with rates of childmisbehaviour (r = .44, R < .05) and total scale scores havebeen found to discriminate between parents of clinic andnormal children (Arnold et al., 1991).37RESULTSPreliminary Analyses. For each parent, scores on each attribution rating werecalculated by summing across the four spouse-childscenarios. Correlations among the three causal attributionratings and among the four responsibility-blame attributionratings were conducted to assess whether these ratings couldbe aggregated. Given that the pattern of intercorrelationsamong these ratings was similar for mothers and fathers,mother and father ratings were considered together. Theintercorrelations among the seven attributional dimensionscollapsed across mothers and fathers are presented in Table1. A correlation between ratings of .80 or greater wasemployed as the criterion for aggregation into a compositescore. For the causal attribution dimensions, only moderatecorrelations were found between Locus and Stability andbetween Locus and Globality. Therefore, the locus dimensionwas considered a relatively independent dimension, and wasretained individually for subsequent analyses. Thecorrelation between Stability and Globality ratings was .80,and therefore these two ratings were averaged into one score(Stab-Glob) in all further analyses. Among theresponsibility-blame attribution ratings, only thecorrelation between Fault and Blame exceeded .80. These tworatings were averaged into one score (Fault-Blame) in allfurther analyses.38Descriptive and Psychometric Statistics. In this sample, mean PAI scores were 130.5 (SD = 14.5)and 128.3 (SD = 11.4) for mothers and fathers, respectively.Mean DAS scores were 115.6 (SD = 15.0) and 109.2 (SD = 15.5)for mothers and fathers, respectively. Mean parent ratingsfor the spouse's parenting behaviour on the Overreactivitysubscale of the Parenting Scale were 27.9 (SD = 10.2) and28.5 (SD = 9.1) for mothers and fathers, respectively.Correlations between PAI scores and DAS scores were .76 (p <.001) and .74 (R < .001), for mothers and fathers,respectively. Correlations between parents' PAI scores andtheir spouse's scores on the Overreactivity subscale of theParenting Scale were -.30 (R < .05) and -.34 (R = .03) formothers and fathers, respectively. Higher parentingalliance was associated with less spouse overreactivity indiscipline. The correlation between DAS and the spouses'ratings of parent behaviour was not significant for mothers,and marginally significant for fathers (r = -.24, p = .10).Fathers with higher marital satisfaction had spousesreporting less parenting overreactivity. The means andstandard deviations for mothers' and fathers' attributionratings for spouse behaviour (summed across the four spouse-child scenarios) are provided in Table 2.In this study, Cronbach's alpha internal consistencycoefficients were calculated for both mothers and fathers onthe measures of parenting alliance, marital adjustment, andparent behaviour. For mothers, the Cronbach's alpha39coefficients were .95 for the PAI, .90 for the DAS totalscale, and .86 for the Parenting Scale's Overreactivitysubscale. For fathers, the Cronbach's alpha coefficientswere .91 for the PAI, .87 for the DAS total scale, and .79for the Parenting Scale's Overreactivity subscale.Main Analyses. To determine whether parents' attributions for spousebehaviour during negative parent-child interactions wereassociated with parenting alliance and marital adjustment,scores on the PAI and on the DAS were each correlated withattribution ratings for mothers and fathers separately. Itwas hypothesized that an association would be found betweenparents' negative attributions for spouse behaviour andparents' PAI and DAS scores. Specifically, it was predictedthat lower scores on the PAI and the DAS would be associatedwith lower scores on Locus (reflecting more internalattributions) and Stab-Glob (reflecting more stable andglobal attributions), and with higher scores for Intent,Freedom and Fault-Blame (reflecting perceptions of moreintentional, freely chosen behaviour for which the spouse isat fault and blameworthy). Correlations between attributionsand PAI scores, and attributions and DAS scores, arepresented in Table 3. Given the small sample size and thelack of previous research investigating the predictedrelationships, a liberal alpha level of .05 was used indeterrmining the significance of correlations. However, itis noted, that given the multiple correlations conducted,40the risk of Type 1 error has been elevated. Therefore,these findings warrant cautious interpretation andreplication.For mothers, PAI scores were not associated with Locus,Glob-Stab, Freedom, or Fault-Blame. A significant, negativerelationship was found between Intent and PAI (r = -.33, R =.02), so that mothers who attributed more negative intent totheir spouse reported lower parenting alliance than motherswho attributed less negative intent. For fathers, PAIscores were not associated with Locus, Stab-Glob, or Fault-Blame. However, significant, negative relationships werefound between both Intent and Freedom and PAI scores (r = -.41, R = .01 and r = -.30, R = .05, respectively). Fatherswho inferred that their spouse's behaviour was morenegatively intended and more freely chosen scored lower onthe PAI than fathers who perceived their spouse's negativebehaviour as less intentional and less freely chosen. Insum, 3 of the 10 correlations across mothers and fathersprovided support for the hypothesis that attributions arerelated to parenting alliance.For mothers, none of the correlations betweenattributions and DAS scores were significant. For fathers,Locus, Glob-Stab, Intent, and Freedom were not significantlycorrelated with DAS. Contrary to the hypothesis, a positivecorrelation between Fault-Blame and DAS was revealed (r =.46, R < .01), so that fathers who attributed more Fault-Blame to their spouse reported higher marital satisfaction.41In sum, only 1 of 10 correlations suggested an associationbetween marital adjustment and attributions for the spouse'sparenting behaviour.Secondary Analyses. This study also sought to test whether parentingalliance could account for variance in attributions, aboveand beyond the proportion of variance in attributions thatcould be accounted for by marital adjustment. To test thissecondary hypothesis, regression analyses were performed topredict causal and responsibility-blame attributions usingPAI scores as the independent or predictor variable andcontrolling for DAS. For these analyses, an alpha of .05was used to determine the significance of the fullregression models, and individual predictors were examinedonly if the full model was significant. Results with alphalevels of .05 to .10 were considered marginally significantand were interpreted in an exploratory fashion. Thesignificance level for individual predictors was also set at.05.Full regression models were not significant forpredicting mothers' scores for Locus, Glob-Stab, Intent,Freedom or Fault-Blame.The full regression model for predicting fathers'ratings of stability-globality was not significant. Thefull regression model for predicting ratings of Locus wasmarginally significant (F(2,29) = 3.08, R = .06). Examiningthe contribution of PAI after controlling for DAS indicated42that PAI made a unique contribution to the prediction offather Locus (t(1,29) = 2.01, R = .05). However, examiningthe beta weights for PAI and DAS indicated that PAI and DASoperated in different directions. This was consistent withthe findings from the bivariate correlations. As predicted,higher PAI scores predicted less internal attributions.However, higher DAS scores were predictive of more internalattributions.For attributions of responsibility-blame, the fullregression models were significant for predicting fathers'ratings of Intent (F(2,29) = 4.62, R = .02) and Fault-Blame(F(2,29) = 6.15, R < .01), but not Freedom. Looking firstat attributions of intent, it was found that PAI made asignificant, unique contribution in predicting fatherattributions of negative intent after controlling for DAS(t(1,29) = -2.96, R < . 01). As expected, higher PAI scoreswere predictive of fathers' attributions of less intent.For predicting Fault-Blame, examining the uniquecontribution of PAI after controlling for DAS indicated thatPAI made a marginally significant, unique contribution inpredicting father attributions of fault-blame (t(1,29) = -1.84, R = .08). As expected, higher PAI scores werepredictive of lesser ascriptions of fault-blame to thespouse. However, unexpectedly, higher scores on the DASwere predictive of greater ascriptions of fault-blame to thespouse. In sum, at least for fathers, support was foundthat parenting alliance makes a significant, unique43contribution to the prediction of attributions for spousebehaviour along the dimensions of Locus (marginal), Intent,and Fault-Blame (marginal).In line with longitudnal studies in the maritalattribution literature which suggests that attributionsinfluence marital adjustment, regression analyses were alsoperformed using attributions to predict PAI scores.However, it is acknowledged that regression analyses cannottest causality. To compare the relative contributions ofconceptually distinct types of attributions, two blocks ofvariables were entered into the regression. The causalattribution ratings (Locus, Stability-Globality) wereentered in one block and the responsibility-blameattribution ratings (Intent, Freely Chosen, Responsibility-Blame) were entered in a second block. Analyses wereconducted examining the unique contribution of each block,after controlling for the other block.The full regression model was not significant forpredicting mothers' PAI scores. For fathers, the fullregression model was marginally significant for predictingPAI scores (F(5,26) = 2.25, p = .08). Examination of eachblock's unique contribution revealed that only theattributions of responsibility-blame significantlycontributed to the prediction of PAI scores (F(3,26) = 3.47,R = .03). Within this block, only Intent (t(5,26) = -2.89,= .01) made a significant and unique contribution to theprediction of PAI. Fathers attributing less intent for44their spouse's negative behaviour reported higher parentingalliance.Due to the concern that differences in the parentingbehaviour of the spouse might account for the relationshipbetween attributions for the spouse's behaviour and PAI,further regression analyses were conducted adding thespouses' report of their own parenting behaviour as acontrol variable. That is, the prediction of PAI scores wasexamined using three blocks of variables (spouse'soverreactivity score, causal attributions, andresponsibility-blame attributions) and examining the uniquecontributions of each block. The full regression model forpredicting mothers' PAI scores again did not reachsignificance. The full model for predicting fathers' PAIscores achieved reach marginal significance (F(6,25) = 1.98,R = .107). The block containing the responsibility-blameattributions was marginally significant in predictingfathers' PAI scores (F(3,26) = 2.37, R = .09). Parentingbehaviour and causal attributions did not make significant,unique contributions to the prediction of fathers' PAIscores. Hence, it appears that spouse behaviour did notaccount for the relationships that were found betweenattributions and parenting alliance.Exploratory Analyses In this study, mothers and fathers also madeattribution ratings for parent behaviour in scenariosdescribing interactions between themselves and their45children. The means and standard deviations for mothers'and fathers' attributions for their own behaviour, summedover the four self-child scenarios, are provided in Table 4.The self-child scenarios were included in the study so thata comparison betweeen the attributions parents make fortheir own behaviour versus their spouse's behaviour could bemade across couples reporting higher and lower levels ofparenting alliance. Given only preliminary evidence ofself-spouse differences in the marital literature, nospecific predictions were made for this exploratoryanalysis.Three-way repeated-measures univariate analyses ofvariance (ANOVAs) were conducted with parent (mother,father) and target (self, spouse) as the within-subjectvariables and PAI (higher, lower) as the between subjectsfactor. The 32 mother-father pairs were assigned to higherand lower PAI groups using a median split based on couples'mean PAI scores. Couple PAI scores for the lower parentingalliance group ranged from 110.0 to 131.0 and couple scoresfor the higher parenting alliance group ranged from 131.5 to147. Due to the small sample of couples, a median split wasused to generate groups for this exploratory analysisrather than examining the upper and lower thirds of thedistribution of PAI scores. The dependent variables wereLocus, Stab-Glob, Intent, Freedom, and Fault-Blame. Thecell means for these analyses are presented in Table 5.46Employing Locus as the dependent variable, the ANOVArevealed no significant main effects nor interactioneffects. For Stab-Glob, no main effects for target nor PAIwere found. A main effect for parent, qualified by a parentX target interaction effect was found (F(1,29) = 6.01, p =.02 and F(1,29) = 6.67, p = .02, respectively). A follow-upanalysis of simple effects was conducted looking at theeffect of target (self,spouse) at each level of parent(mother, father) and collapsing across lower and higher PAIgroups. It was revealed that mothers did not differ in theattributions they made for their own behaviour versus theattributions they made for their spouse's behaviour (M =21.37 and M = 22.99, respectively). Fathers, however, ratedthe cause of their own behaviour as less stable and globalthan they rated their spouse's behaviour (M = 28.48 and M =22.94, respectively). Given the exploratory nature the selfversus spouse investigation, an analysis of simple effectswas also conducted looking at the the effect of parentacross each level of target, and again, collapsing acrosslower and higher PAI groups. Looking first at attributionsmade for own behaviour, it was revealed that mothers mademore stable and global attributions for their own negativebehaviour than fathers made for their own behaviour (M =21.37 and M = 28.48, respectively). However, mothers andfathers did not differ in their ratings of stability-globality for spouse behaviour (M = 22.97 and M = 22.94,respectively). The ANOVA employing Intent as the dependent47variable revealed no significant main or interactioneffects. The ANOVA for Freedom revealed a significantparent X target interaction (F(1,28) = 14.57, p = .001), andno significant main effects for either parent, target orPAI. A follow-up analysis of simple effects looking at theeffect of target across levels of parent, collapsing acrosscouples reporting higher and lower levels of PAI wasconducted. It was revealed that mothers rated their ownnegative behaviour as more freely chosen than they ratedtheir spouse's negative behaviour (M = 31.5 and M = 29.77,respectively) and fathers rated their own negative behaviouras less freely chosen than they rated their spouse'snegative behaviour (M = 27.47 and 29.33, respectively).Looking at mothers' and fathers' ratings across levels oftarget revealed that mothers rated their own behaviour asmore freely chosen than fathers rated their own behaviour (M= 31.5 and 27.47, respectively). However, mothers andfathers did not differ in their ratings for spouse behaviour(M = 29.77 and M = 29.33, respectively). Finally, employingFault-Blame as the dependent variable, a significant maineffect was detected for target, F(1,28) = 12.02, p < .01.Collapsing across mothers and fathers and across levels ofparenting alliance, parents made greater attributions offault-blame for their own behaviour than spouse behaviour (M= 28.28 and M = 25.37, repectively).48DiscussionThis study examined whether parenting alliance isassociated with the attributions parents make for theirspouse's behaviour in negative interactions with theirchild. Findings from the bivariate correlations providedmodest support for the hypothesis that there exists anassociation between parents' attributions for their spouse'sparenting behaviour and the level of parenting alliance theyreport. Specifically, it was found that mothers and fatherswho attributed more negative intent to their spouses scoredlower on the PAI than mothers and fathers who perceivedtheir spouse's behaviour as less negatively intended. Also,fathers who inferred that their spouse's negative behaviourwas more freely chosen scored lower on the PAI than fatherswho inferred their spouse's negative behaviour to be lessfreely chosen. Attributions of fault-blame were notassociated with parenting alliance for either mothers orfathers. Also, no associations were found between parentingalliance and the causal attribution dimensions.Bivariate correlations testing the association betweenattributions and marital adjustment, similar to thecorrelations assessing the relationship between attributionsand parenting alliance, also revealed no significantassociations between marital adjustment and causalattributions for either mothers or fathers. Neither wereassociations found between attributions of intent andfreedom and marital adjustment. For fathers, attributions49of responsibility-blame were found to be associated withmarital adjustment. However, this was a positiveassociation, with fathers attributing more fault-blame totheir spouse scoring higher on the DAS. The correlationbetween attributions of fault-blame and marital adjustmentfor mothers was not significant.In summary, bivariate analyses revealed no associationsbetween causal attributions and either parenting alliance ormarital adjustment. The correlations that were foundbetween responsibility-blame attributions and parentingalliance reflected inverse associations, as predicted, withmore negative attributions associated with lower levels ofparenting alliance. However, the direction of theassociation found between the one responsibility-blameattribution and marital adjustment was opposite to theprediction, with greater attributions of fault-blameassociated with higher levels of marital adjustment.This study also sought to determine whether parentingalliance contributed to the prediction of attributions forspouse behaviour above and beyond the prediction afforded bymarital adjustment. Looking at fathers, and controlling formarital adjustment, it was found that parenting alliancecontributed to the prediction of attributions of locus(marginally), intent, and fault-blame, but not globality-stability and freedom. Higher levels of parenting alliancepredicted more external attributions for negative spousebehaviour, diminished attributions of negative intent, and50lesser ascriptions of fault-blame. Unexpectedly, however,it was found that higher levels of marital adjustmentpredicted more internal attributions, greater perceptions ofnegative intent, and greater ascriptions of fault-blame tothe spouse. For mothers, neither parenting alliance normarital adjustment were predictive of attributions forspouse behaviour.The pattern of data in this study support furtherinvestigation of parenting alliance as an element of familyrelations distinct from marital adjustment. In bothbivariate correlations and regression analyses, parentingalliance was found to be related to attributions in a mannerdifferent from marital adjustment. In fact, the regressionanalyses were most supportive of the distinction betweenparenting alliance and marital adjustment in thatcontrolling for marital adjustment allowed morerelationships between parenting alliance and attributions toemerge than had appeared in correlations. As expected,inverse relationships were found between parenting allianceand attributions of intent and freedom, two elements thathave been proposed to be criteria for the determination ofresponsibility (Hart, 1968). On the other hand, arelationship between attributions and marital adjustment wasonly found along the dimension of fault-blame, a type ofattribution that has been conceptually distinguished fromattributions relating to responsibility.51Perhaps the unique relationship found between maritaladjustment and Fault-Blame is related to the finding thatlower levels of marital adjustment are associated with morefrequent and severe behaviour problems in children (Emery,1982). Whereas attributions of intent and freedom areactor-specific (that is, the actor is the only person in aninteraction with the capacity to intend or chose hisbehaviour), ascriptions of fault and blame can be dividedamong the participants in the interaction. For a negativeparent-child interaction, attributions of fault-blame mightbe directed mostly toward the parent in happily marriedfamilies of children who display few behaviour problems. Onthe other hand, maritally-distressed families with childrenexhibiting disruptive behaviour problems may ascribe moreblame to the child in the interaction, thus attributing lessfault-blame to the parent.In the marital literature, the question of whetherthere is an association between spouses' attributions formarital events and marital adjustment has often been linkedwith the question of whether this association is causal innature (Bradbury & Fincham, 1990). In the current research,regressions were conducted to test whether parentingalliance was predictive of attributions and whetherattributions were predictive of parenting alliance. Thefindings from these regression analyses were consistent witha model in which attributions and parenting alliance share areciprocal relationship. Longitudinal research, like that52of Fincham and Bradbury (1987), and treatment outcomeresearch examining cognitive restructuring, may be useful inthe exploration of causality.Parallel to attributional models presented in themarital literature, the data obtained in the present studyalso suggested that the attributions fathers make for theirspouse's behaviour are predictive of parenting alliance.Fathers who perceived their spouse's behaviour as lessnegatively intended reporting higher levels of parentingalliance. Even when controlling for spouse behaviour,fathers' attributions of negative intent remained marginallypredictive of their reports of parenting alliance. However,fathers' attributions along the remaining dimensions did notpredict parenting alliance. None of the attributioncomposites, nor spouse behaviour, were found to predictmother reports of parenting alliance.The findings of the present study suggest that theremay be merit in distinguishing among broad dimensions ortypes of attributions (i.e., causal, responsibility). Thetwo causal attribution dimensions examined in this studywere not found to significantly correlate with eitherparenting alliance or marital adjustment, unlikeattributions of responsibility-blame. Also, causalattributions did not contribute to the prediction ofparenting alliance for either mothers or fathers, whereasresponsibility-blame attributions were predictive at leastfathers' reports of parenting alliance. These results53suggest that responsibility-blame dimensions are moreimportant than causal dimensions in understandingattributional processes in couples reporting lower versushigher levels of parenting alliance. This pattern ofresults is consistent with previous research which has founda greater association between responsibility-blameattributions and affective responses than between causalattributions and affective response (Fincham & Bradbury,1992). The lack of findings along causal dimensions mayalso reflect that questions assessing responsiblity andblame attributions (e.g., to what extent is your spouse toblame for his behaviour?) may be easier to understand and toanswer for parents than questions posed to assess causaldimensions (e.g., to what extent was the cause of yourspouse's behaviour something about your spouse versussomething about the situation?).The current findings also suggest that it might beadvantageous to analyze separately the constituentdimensions of a given attribution type rather than focus ona composite attribution measure that collapses ratingsacross dimensions. For example, in this study, differentcorrelates were found for the 3 dimensions reflectingattributions of responsibility-blame. Bivariatecorrelations showed attributions of intent and freedom to beinversely associated with parenting alliance, but not fault-blame. On the other hand, attributions of fault-blame, butnot intent or freedom, had a positive association with54marital adjustment. These findings support the argumentthat "a premature focus on attribution composites maypreclude the identification of correlates unique toindividual attribution dimensions" (Bradbury & Fincham,1990). Fincham and Bradbury (1992) also point out thatexclusive reliance on composite indices of broad attributiontypes may inappropriately lead to the conclusion that eachof the component dimensions of an attribution type areequally important.The present study did not find differences in theattributions parents made for their own behaviour versustheir spouse's behaviour across couples reporting higher andlower levels of parenting alliance. However, this studyreports on a community sample. Also, couples were dividedinto groups based on the average of mother and father PAIscores. Findings did suggest that mothers and fathers madedifferential attributions for themselves versus theirspouses, at least in terms of stability-globality andfreedom dimensions. It is interesting to note that alongthese two dimensions, the mothers' pattern of attributionsfor their own versus their spouse's behaviour was similar tothe pattern reported in community samples where spouses makeequally or more benign (less blaming) attributions for theirpartner's behaviour relative to their own behaviour: Thepattern of attributions made by fathers for their own andtheir spouse's behaviour appears similar to the pattern ofself versus spouses divergences reported in clinic samples,55where spouses make less benign or more blaming attributionsfor their spouse's behaviour relative to their own. Thismay be because the mean marital adjustment score was lowerfor fathers than for mothers in this sample. It was alsofound that fathers made less blaming or more benignattributions for their own behaviour (less negativelyintended, less freely chosen, less at fault and worthy ofblame) than mothers made for their own behaviour. One couldspeculate that fathers are perceiving themselves as doingbetter jobs as parents than their fathers did, whereasmothers might feel the reverse.The findings of this study, upon replication, will haveinteresting implications in the assessment of familiesseeking treatment in mental health settings. The familyliterature attests to the importance of assessing themarital dyad in treating families of problem children (e.g.,Emery, 1982; Grych & Fincham, 1990). However, the presentstudy offers preliminary support for conceptualizing theparenting alliance as distinct from marital functioning.This finding, in combination with research recommending thatspecific aspects of the marital relationship (e.g., child-rearing disagreements) are better predictors of childbehaviour problems than overall marital adjustment (Dadds &Powell, 1991, Johnston, 1993), suggests that measures ofparenting alliance may be more relevant for assessingfamilies with problem children than standard measures ofmarital adjustment.56Due to the limited size of this preliminary sample, andthe multiple analyses conducted, it is important torecognize that the risk of Type I error in this study hasbeen inflated, such that only tentative conclusions can bedrawn pending replication. There are also questions ofexternal validity. Although some marital research hassuggested that spouses' respond similarly to hypotheticaland real marital events (Fincham & Beach, 1988), studieshave not evaluated the responses of parents to hypotheticalversus real parenting events. Nor has research beenconducted to evaluate parents' responses to hypotheticalevents involving interactions between two family members.It is uncertain whether the attributions elicited in thisstudy in response to hypothetical parent-child interactionsare comparable to the attributions parents might make whenobserving interactions between their child and spouse intheir own home.There is also potential in this sample for theoperation of a selection bias. Of the 37 mothers whocompleted questionnaires, 32 of their spouses also completedand returned questionnaires. Parents in couples where bothspouses are willing to complete questionnaires may differfrom parents in families where only one parent is willing tocomplete a questionnaire. It is also noted that thepercentage of families in this sample who have soughtpsychological services for at least one of their childrenwas higher than that found in the general population (Of ford57et al., 1987). Thus, the extent to which this sample ofvolunteer couples is representative is unknown.Nonetheless, findings from this study do suggest that,at least for fathers, lower levels of parenting alliance areassociated with the formation of attributions which mayaccentuate the impact of the spouse's negative behaviour andcast it in a more negative light in comparison to theattributions made by fathers reporting higher levels ofparenting alliance. Upon replication, the findings of thisstudy will contribute to the growing literature which hasacknowledged that a comprehensive account of the familyfunctioning must address cognitive components of familyinteractions (Johnston, in press). This study adds to thecurrent literature by looking beyond dyadic relationshipsbetween husbands and wives (e.g., Fincham, Beach, & Baucom,1987, Fincham & Bradbury, 1992) and mothers and children(e.g., Dix & Grusec, 1985, MacKinnon et al., 1990), totriadic situations where parents' observed their spousesinteracting with their children.It would be profitable for future research to searchfor other factors which may be associated with higher andlower levels of parenting alliance (e.g., parenting stress).Research is also needed to determine whether there arefactors other than parenting alliance and marital adjustmentwhich may differentially predict attributions made bymothers versus fathers (e.g., parenting self-esteem,parental locus of control). Future directions also include58the addition of measures of affect to examine whetherattributions made for the spouse's parenting behaviour arerelated to parents' affective responses to both the spouse'sand the child's behaviour in negative parent-childinteractions. This preliminary work could also be extendedto investigate whether attributions underlie patterns ofbehaviour exchange (e.g. co-ordination of parenting efforts)which may differentiate couples differing in level ofparenting alliance. In line with much of the maritalliterature, it would be useful to compare parents'attributions for spouse behaviour in a community sample withthose of a clinic sample. Finally, to find further supportfor the distinction between parenting alliance and maritaladjustment in married couples with children, it may beuseful to measure and compare both these constructs inclinic samples referred either for marital counselling orfor child problems.59Notes1. One response alternative from item 32 was missing onall DAS questionnaires due to a clerical error. Also,item 15(a) was added to the Dyadic Adjustment Scale bythe investigator, and was not included in thecalculation of DAS scores.6061Table 1Intercorrelations Among Causal and Responsibility-BlameAttribution Ratings (Collapsed Across Mothers and Fathers). LocusLocusStabilityGlobal ityIntentFreedomFaultBlameStability.48**Globality.56***.80***Intent-.32*-.26-.35*Freedom-.27-.13-.13.38*Fault-.46**-.35*-.26•34*.24Blame-.40*-.29-.24•40**.16.91**** p < .05. ** R < .01. *** p < .001Table 2Mean Attribution Ratings For Negative Spouse Behaviour.AttributionDimensionMother FatherLocus 19.5 (5.8) 24.0 (6.1)Stab-Glob 21.8 (7.4) 22.8 (7.0)Intent 20.6 (8.6) 18.2 (7.6)Freedom 29.8 (6.9) 29.4 (6.2)Fault-Blame 26.8 (7.4) 23.7 (7.6)6263Table 3Correlations Between Attribution Ratings and ParentingAlliance. PAI DASAttribution mothers fathers mothers^fathersDimensionsLocus -.08 .05 -.09 -.24Stab-Glob .07 .14 .03 -.04Intent -.33* -.41** -.17 -.11Freedom .13 -.30* .04 -.18Fault-Blame .06 .15 .21 .46*** R_< .05. **p< .01Table 4Mean Attribution Ratings for Self Behaviour.AttributionDimensionMother FatherLocus 19.33 (8.6) 21.65 (6.0)Glob-Stab 20.75 (8.6) 23.44 (6.4)Intent 21.86 (8.4) 18.26 (6.5)Freedom 30.56 (7.3) 27.81 (7.1)Fault-Blame 28.17 (8.6) 27.84 (6.2)64Table 5Cell Means for Parent (mother,father) by Target(self,spouse) by PAI (higher,lower) ANOVAs. LocusMotherSelf^SpouseFatherSelf^Spouselower 19.69 21.25 22.56 23.63higher 19.86 19.93 20.71 24.64Stab-Glob21.66 24.00 26.31 22.69lowerhigher 21.07 21.87 30.80 23.20Intent22.63 20.56 17.75 19.44lowerhigher 21.43 18.93 19.64 17.86Freedom29.38 27.69 27.81 29.63lowerhigher 33.93 32.14 27.07 29.00Fault-Blame26.31 24.06 26.97 22.72lowerhigher 30.89 29.79 29.39 25.5765ReferencesAbidin, R. R. & Brunner, J. F. (April, 1991). 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Adolescent Psychiatry, 12, 24-45.71APPENDIX AStudy of Attributions for Parent Behaviour in Parent -Child InteractionsDepartment of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaWendy Freeman 683-2156Dr. Charlotte Johnston 822-6771This questionnaire package is part of a research project being conducted by graduatestudent Wendy Freeman and Dr. Charlotte Johnston in the Psychology Department atthe University of British Columbia. We are interested in how parents explain thingsthat happen during parent-child interactions. Findings from this project will better ourunderstanding of how parents think about family interactions and have implications forunderstanding family functioning.We recommend that you choose a quiet time to complete the forms in this package(e.g. after your child(ren)'s bedtime). There are several sections to the questionnaire.One parent in each family will complete a form asking for general family information(e.g., mother and father's occupation, number of children). All parents complete asection which asks you to respond to eight descriptions of family interactions, fouroccurring between yourself and^ , and four occurring betweenyour spouse and^ . After reading each description, you are askedto indicate your feelings about the parent's and the child's behaviour on several ratingscales. Following, there is a short page asking you to rate the extent to which thebehaviours described in the eight scenarios are or are not typical of yourself, yourspouse, and your son. The next section asks you questions about being a parenttogether with your spouse and then your marital relationship. This is followed by abrief section asking you to describe^ 's behaviour. The finalsection asks questions about your spouse's parenting behaviour, about disagreementsbetween you and your spouse with regard to child-rearing, and your feelings aboutbeing a parent.Please check the back side of each page of your questionnaire as most sections use boththe front and back of the pages.We would appreciate it if you could complete the questionnaires and return the packetas soon as possible in the envelopes provided. We also ask that you and your spousecomplete your questionnaires independently and seal them in the envelopes providedbefore discussing them together. The questionnaires should take about 45-60 minutesto complete.You are free to withdraw from the study at any time. If the completed questionnairesare returned to UBC, then it will be assumed that you have consented to participate inthe study. Your responses to the questions will be treated as confidential. The externalenvelope we receive from you will be discarded and your package will be identified bysubject number only. Your participation in the study is strictly voluntary.Thank you for expressing an interest in this study. If you have any comments orquestions regarding the project, please call Wendy Freeman at 683-2156.If you would like to receive a summary of the results, please provide you name andaddress, and we would be happy to mail you a summary of our findings.72APPENDIX BGENERAL INFORMATION SHEET1. Mother's Age:^2. Mother's Occupation: ^3. Highest level of education received for mother: 4. Mother's ethnic background: ^5. Father's Age:^6. Father's Occupation: ^7. Highest level of eduction received for father: 8. Father's ethnic background: ^9. Please provide the following information about each of your children:Child^GenderAre you and your spouse the child'sAge: (M/F): biological parents?10.(a) Have you or your spouse ever sought psychological help for personal problems?Yes No(b) If yes, please describe briefly:11.(a) Have you ever sought psychological help for child behaviour problems? YesNo(b) If yes, please identify which child and describe briefly:12. How many years have you been married?13. 's date of birth.73APPENDIX CINSTRUCTIONS FOR RATINGSWe would like you to read a series of scenarios describing problem parent-childinteractions and answer questions about each of them. For each situation, please try toimagine that the situation involved^. For four of thesituations, we ask you to vividly imagine yourself and^ . For fourother situations (evident from how the scenario is described), we ask you to vividlyimagine the interaction occurring between your spouse and . Try toimagine each situation as an entirely separate event, and not to let your ratings for onesituation influence ratings on subsequent situations.For each situation, you will first be asked to answer specific questions about what youthink caused the parent's behaviour. In seeking such explanations for their ownbehaviour and the behaviour of others, people often make judgements about the extentto which the behaviour was caused by something about the person doing it versussomething about the circumstances or the situation, the extent to which the behaviourwas caused by factors which affect your or the other person's behaviour in othersituations, and the extent to which the behaviour was caused by factors which arealways present in these situations and are long-lasting. You will also be asked whetherthe behaviour was intentional and freely chosen, and whether the parent (you or yourspouse) was at fault and to blame for the behaviour.In this section, the same scenario will be repeated on the reverse side of each page.However, on the back of the page, the child's behaviour is highlighted in bold print,and you will be asked questions about the child's behaviour in the parent-childinteraction.You may find it difficult to make these ratings.There are no right or wrong answers, just go with your first impression.Please RememberPlease try to vividly imagine and yourself, or your spouse asindicated, in the situations that follow. Although some of the situations may not betypical of your experiences with your child(ren), please stretch your imagination andtry to put yourself and , or your spouse and asindicated, in the situation described. Also, please remember to complete the reverseside of each page.74APPENDIXDFor the parent behaviour highlighted in bold print:1. To what extent was this behaviour caused by somethingabout your spouse versus something about the situation?1^2^ 3^ 4^5^ 6^7^8^9^10something about something aboutmy spouse the situation2. To what extent was this behaviour caused by somethingthat will influence your spouse's behaviour in otherinteractions with the child?1^2^ 3^4^5^ 6^7^8^9^10influences most influences just thisinteractions particular interaction3. To what is this behaviour caused by something that islasting vs. a one-time thing?1^ 2^ 3^4^5^ 6^7^8^ 9^ 10lasting a one-time thing4. To what extent was your spouse's behaviour intended tobe negative?1^2^ 3^4^5^ 6^7^ 8^ 9^10not at all veryintentional intentional5. To what extent was the behaviour something your spousefreely chose to do?1^ 2^ 3^4^5^ 6^7^8^ 9^ 10not at all completelyfreely chosen freely chosen6. To what extent would your spouse be at fault for his orher behaviour?1^2^ 3^4^5^ 6^7^8^9^10not at all very muchat fault at fault7.^To what extent would your spouse be to blame for his orher behaviour?1^ 2^3^ 4^ 5^ 6^ 7^8^9^10not at all very muchto blame to blame7576APPENDIX EPARENTING ALLIANCE INVENTORYDIRECTIONS: The questions listed below concern what happens between you and your child's other parent. While youmay not find an answer which exactly describes what you think, please circle the answer that comes closest to describingwhat you think. YOUR FIRST REACTION SHOULD BE YOUR ANSWERStrongly NotAgree SureStronglyDisagreeAgree Disagree5 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 21. During pregnancy, my child's otherparent liked to talk about our child.2. During pregnancy, my child'sother parent expressed confidence inmy ability to be a good parent.3. My child's other parent believes Iam a good parent.4. My child's other parent tells me Iam a good parent.5. My child's other parent sees ourchild in the same way I do.6. My child's other parent and I wouldbasically describe our child in thesame way.7. My child's other parent and I havethe same goals for our child.8. If our child needs to tie punished,my child's other parent and I usuallyagree on the type of punishment.9. My child's other parent and I agreeon what our child should andshould not be permitted to do.10. When I see my child's other parentinteract with our child. I feel goodabout it.11. I feel close to my child's other parentwhen I see him/her play with our child.12. When there is a problem with our child,we work out a good solution together.13. I believe my child's other parent is aa good parent.14. I learn how to better manage my childby watching his/her other parentmanage him/her.15.^I believe my child's other parent caresdeeply about our child.7 7Strongly NotAgree SureStronglyDisagreeAgree Disagree5 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 25 4 3 2 15 4 3 25 4 3 2 15 4 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 15 4 3 2 116. I believe my child's other parent hasconfidence in what I do with our child.17. Even if my child's other parent and Ihave problems in our relationship,we can work together for our child.18. When my child's other parent helpsout with our child, I feel good about it.19. My child's other parent cares aboutour child.20. I feel good about my child's otherparent's judgement about what isright for our child.21. My child's other parent makes my jobof being a parent easier.22. I know my child's other parent andI will always be together as parents,even if our relationship ends.23. My child's other parent and Icommimicate well about our child24. Talking to my child's other parentabout our child is something I lookforward to.25. My child's other parent and I are agood team.26. My child's other parent is willing tomake personal sacrifices to helptake care of our child27. My child's other parent enjoys beingalone with our child28. My child's other parent pays a greatdeal of attention to our child.29. My child's other parent knows how tomanage children well.30.^When my child's other parent thinksour child is doing something wrong,I often think the same thing.78APPENDIX FDYADIC ADJUSTMENT SCALE^ Completed by: Mother FatherMost persons have disagreements in their relationships. Please indicate below the approximate extent of agreement or disagreementbetween you and your partner for each item on the following list. (Place a check mark to indicate your answer).Almost^Occa-^Fre-^Almost Aways^Always^sionally^ouently^Always^AlwaysAgree Agree Disagree^Disagree^Disagree^Disagree1. Handling family finances2. Matters of recreation3. Religious matters4. Demonstration of affection5. Friends6. Sex relations7. Conventionality8. Philosophy of life9. Ways of dealing with parentsor in-laws10. Aims, goals, & things believedimportant11. Amount of time spent together12. Making major decisions13. Household tasks14. Leisure time interests andactivities15.^Career decisions15a.^Child-rearing (e.g.. discipline)MoreAll of^Most of^Often^Occa-the Time^the Time^Than Not^sionally^Rarely^Never16. How often do you discuss orhave you considered divorce,separation, or terminating yourrelationship?17. How often do you or your mateleave the house after a fight?18.^In general, how often do youthink that things between youand your partner are going well? ^7919. Do you confide in your mate?20. Do you ever regret that youmarried (or lived together)?21. How often do you and yourpartner quarrel?22. How often do you and your mate"get on each others" nerves?AlmostEvery Every Occa-Day Day sionallv Rarely Never23. Do you kiss your mate?All of Most of Some of Very few None ofThem them Them of Them Them24. Do you and your mate engagein outside interests together?How often would you say the following events occur between you and your mate?Less than^Once or^Once orOnce a^Twice a^Twice a^Once aNever^Month^Month Week^Day^Often25. Have a stimulating exchangeof ideas?26. Laugh together27. Calmly discuss something28. Work together on a projectThese are some things about which couples sometimes agree and sometimes disagree. Indicate if either item below causeddifferences of opinions or were problems in your relationship during the past few weeks. (Check yes or no).Yes^No29.^ Being too tired for sex30 Not showing love31.^The dots on the following line represent different degrees of happiness in your relationship. The middle point, "happy.",represents the degree of happiness in most relationships. Please circle the dot which best describes the degree of happiness,all things considered, of your relationship.Extremely^Fairly^A Little^Happy^Very^Extremely^PerfectUnhappy^Unhappy^Unhappy Happy Happy8 032.^Which of the following statements best describes how you feel about the future of your relationship? (Check one).I want desperately for my relationship to succeed, and would go to almost any length to see that it does.I want very much for my relationship to succeed, and will do all I can to see that it does.I want very much for my relationship to succeed, but I can't do much more than I am doing now to help itsucceed.It would be nice if it succeeded, but I refuse to do any more than I am doing now to keep the relationship going.My relationship can never succeed, and there is no more that I can do to keep the relationship going.APPENDIX GParenting ScaleAt one time or another, all children misbehave or do things that could be harmful, that are "wrong", orthat parents don't like. Examples include:hitting someone^ whiningthrowing food forgetting homeworknot picking up toys lyinghaving a tantrum^ refusing to go to bedwanting a cookie before dinner^running into the streetarguing back coming home lateParents have many different ways or styles of dealing with these types of problems. Below are items thatdescribe some styles of parenting. FOR EACH ITEM, FILL IN THE CIRCLE THAT BEST DESCRIBESYOUR STYLE OF PARENTING DURING THE PAST TWO MONTHS with the child indicated above.**********************************************************************************SAMPLE ITEM:At meal time ...I let my childdecide how muchto eat.0---0---0---0---0---0---0 I decide howmuch my childeats.**********************************************************************************1. WHEN I'M UPSET OR UNDER STRESS ...I am picky and^0-0-0-0-0-0-0^I am no moreon my child's picky thanback.^ usual.2. WHEN MY CHILD MISBEHAVES ...I usually get into^0---0---0---0---0---0---0^I don't geta long argument into anwith my child. argument.3.^WHEN MY CHILD MISBEHAVES ...I give my child^0-0-0-0-0-0-0^I keep my talksa long lecture short and tothe point.WHEN MY CHILD MISBEHAVES ...I raise my^0-0-0-0-0-0-0^I speak to myvoice or yell child calmly.825. AFTER THERE'S BEEN A PROBLEM WITH MY CHILDI often hold a^0-0-0-0-0-0-0^Things get backgrudge. to normalquickly.6. WHEN THERE'S A PROBLEM WITH MY CHILD ...Things build up^0---0-0-0-0-0--0^Things don'tand I do things I get out ofdon't mean to do. hand.7. WHEN MY CHILD MISBEHAVES, I SPANK, SLAP, GRAB, OR HIT MY CHILDNever or^0-0-0-0--0-0-0^Most of the timerarely.8. WHEN MY CHILD MISBEHAVES ...I handle it^0-0-0-0-0-0-0^I get so frustratedwithout getting or angry that myupset. child can see I'm upset9. WHEN MY CHILD MISBEHAVES.I rarely use bad^0-0-0--0-0-0--0^I almost always uselanguage or curse bad language.10. WHY MY CHILD DOES SOMETHING I DON'T LIKE, I INSULT MY CHILD, SAY MEANTHINGS, OR CALL MY CHILD NAMES.Never or rarely^ Most of the time.06/93Prtgscl.doc

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