Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Crouch, Julie L.||Valentiner, David P.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Personality; Personality development; Discipline of children; Parent and child


Implicit personality theories (IPT) are general beliefs about whether personality is fixed (i.e., entity theories) or malleable (i.e., incremental theories). Research suggests that the type of implicit personality theory a person holds (entity vs. incremental) guides the manner in which social information is processed and understood, especially during negative situations (e.g., Dweck, Chiu, & Hong, 1995a). Research also has demonstrated that interventions designed to alter IPT beliefs can significantly impact how individuals respond to the negative behaviors of others (e.g., Yeager, Miu, Powers, & Dweck, 2013). Although IPTs have yet to be empirically explored in the parenting domain, it is noteworthy that the information processing and behavioral patterns exhibited by individuals who hold entity IPTs are similar to the types of cognitive, affective, and behavioral reactions associated with harsh parenting behaviors (e.g., Milner, 2003). Moreover, findings from a preliminary study suggest that parental IPT beliefs may serve as pre-existing schemata that influence how parents interpret and respond to children's transgressions (Rutledge, Crouch, Valentiner, Milner, & Skowronski, 2014). Building on the results of this preliminary work, the present study was designed to examine whether an IPT intervention modified to fit the parenting context would alter how high entity parents respond to child transgressions. Sixty-three high entity parents (71.4% mothers) were randomly assigned to a control or IPT parenting intervention condition and asked to respond to a series of questions assessing parental reactions to a variety of child transgressions. As expected, results revealed that high entity parents in the IPT intervention condition (compared to parents in a control condition) were less likely to expect future child behavior problems and were less likely to report negative affect following personal child transgressions. In addition, parents in the IPT intervention condition (compared to the control condition) were marginally (a) less likely to ascribe negative traits to transgressing children, (b) less likely to make hostile attributions about children's misbehaviors, and (c) less likely to select harsh parenting strategies. Additionally, mediation analyses revealed that post-intervention IPT scores was a plausible full mediator on the relationship between condition and parental expectations of future behavior problems. Interpretations of these results, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.


Advisors: Julie Crouch; David Valentiner.||Committee members: Randy McCarthy; Joel Milner; Jen Schmidt; John Skowronski.||Includes illustrations.||Includes bibliographical references.


iv, 131 pages




Northern Illinois University

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