Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Crouch, Julie L.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Milner’s (1993, 2000) Social Information Processing (SIP) model of child physical abuse proposes that pre-existing schemata (e.g., belief structures, scripts) influence how parents process information during parent-child interactions, which in turn influences parental responses (e.g., corporal punishment). The purpose of the present study was to examine attitudinal familism (beliefs about unity and commitment/duty towards family) as a pre-existing schema that influences parents’ interpretations, attributions, affective, and behavioral responses to child transgressions. Parents (N = 106) were asked to read vignettes describing child transgressions and report their anticipated cognitive, affective, and behavioral responses. In addition, parents reported on their perceived social support and child physical abuse potential. It was hypothesized that parents who endorse high levels of attitudinal familism (compared to parents who endorse low levels) would report higher levels of negative affect, attribute more hostile intent to the transgressing child, perceive more disrespect/disobedience, more often select harsh parenting practices, and less often select inductive (reasoning/explaining) parenting practices. In addition, it was expected that selection of harsh parenting would be positively associated with child physical abuse (CPA) risk (as assessed using a risk screening questionnaire); however, the strength of this association was expected to be lower among parents who report higher levels of perceived social support. Bivariate and regression analyses indicated that higher attitudinal familism predicted attributions of hostile intent and inductive parenting. Exploratory analyses revealed that high (vs low) attitudinal familism was linked to higher negative affect in response to children’s personal transgressions but not children’s conventional or moral transgressions. Also, high (vs low) attitudinal familism was linked to higher perceptions of disrespect/disobedience for children’s conventional transgressions but not for personal or moral transgressions. Contrary to expectations, perceived social support did not moderate the relationship between harsh parenting and CPA risk. Given that this is the first study to examine the influence of attitudinal familism on parental responses to child transgressions, future research should expand on this study in order to understand how attitudinal familism influences parenting practices and under what conditions it can be risk-potentiating and/or a protective factor with respect to harsh parenting.


103 pages




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