Behavioral signatures of parent goal selection
Koelpin, Donald E.
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The study of parenting behavior often focuses on the trait-like expression of parenting behavior over time. There are relatively few studies, however, which attempt to identify order or stability in the situational variation of parenting behavior. Of those, fewer still attempt to identify ideographic patterns of parent decisionmaking. We adopted a simulated-situations paradigm in order to examine the ideographic influences of parent negative affect, presence of others, and attribution of child control on parent’s selection of parent-centered versus child-centered goals. Moreover, we used the ideographic information from each parent to predict his/her responses to novel situations. The design for the simulated situations and predictions were based on Mischel and Shoda’s 1995 Cognitive-Affective Personality System framework (CAPS). Parents were shown a series of 60 simulated parent-child interactions and asked to choose a behavioral response as if it were their 4- to 5-year-old child acting in each situation. Degree of parental negative affect and the evaluative presence of others were shown to be weak, but significant, predictors of parent’s goal-choice. There was no significant relationship shown for level of child control. We did not successfully identify ideographic influences in parent responding; however, our research indicated that further research in this area is warranted.