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

Abstract

This investigation explored the relation between parents' attributions for their spouse's behaviour during negative parent-child interactions and parenting alliance. Specifically, it was hypothesized that lower levels of parenting alliance are associated with more negative causal attributions and greater attributions of responsibility and blame for negative spouse behaviour. The unique contribution of attributions to the prediction of parenting alliance was also examined. Thirty-seven mothers and 32 fathers of elementary-school-aged boys completed a questionnaire package including the Parenting Alliance Inventory (Abidin & Brunner, 1991). Attributions were assessed using written stimuli and ratings scales assessing dimensions along which causal and responsibility-blame attributions are formed. Analyses revealed no associations between causal attributions for spouse behaviour and parenting alliance. For mothers, one of three responsibility-blame attribution dimensions was associated with level of parenting alliance, and for fathers, two of three responsibility-blame attribution dimensions were associated with lower reports of parenting alliance. Attributions of responsibility-blame, but not causal attributions, were found to predict a marginal amount of variance in attributions above and beyond marital adjustment. The study also explored attributions parents made for spouse behaviour relative to attributions made for self behaviour. Along one causal and one responsibility-blame attribution dimension, a parent by target interaction effect was found, with fathers making more positive attributions for self behaviour than for spouse behaviour, and mothers making equal or more negative attributions for self behaviour than for spouse behaviour. Also, across mothers and fathers, parents made greater attributions of fault-blame for their own behaviour than for spouse behaviour.

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