Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Gold, Steven R.||Milner, Joel S.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Child abuse--Psychological aspects; Mother and child--Psychological aspects; Abusive mothers--Psychology; Emotions


The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between emotion recognition ability and potential for child physical abuse. One hundred and twentynine mothers participated from which two demographically matched groups were created (n per group = 16), including one group that was identified as being at low-risk for child physical abuse and one group that was identified as being at high risk for child physical abuse. Risk-group differences on measures of visual and auditory emotion recognition using child and adult stimuli depicted at high and low intensity levels were analyzed in a series of 2 x 2 x 2 ANOVAs. Riskgroup differences on measures of depression, ego strength, situational stress, and parenting stress were also assessed using a series of 2 x 2 ANOVAs. Contrary to a priori predictions, no significant differences were found between the two groups on measures of visual or auditory emotion recognition ability. As predicted, all participants displayed higher rates of error on low-intensity stimuli; however, high-risk mothers, compared to low-risk mothers, did not exhibit significantly higher low-intensity errors. Both high-risk and low-risk mothers exhibited higher error rates on adult stimuli than child stimuli. As predicted, there were significant risk-group differences on measures on depression, ego strength, and parenting stress, but not situational stress. Limitations of the present study are discussed as well as implications for future research.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [72]-77).


xii, 114 pages




Northern Illinois University

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