Making faces: Testing the relation between child behavior problems and mothers' interpretations of child emotion expressions

Jeffery D. Snarr, Zvi Strassberg, Amy M. Smith Slep

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examined the relations between preschool boys' behavior problems and mothers' interpretations of children's emotion expressions. A sample of 31 mothers of oppositional boys and 28 control mothers responded to standard stimuli depicting child emotional reactions to maternal control attempts; mothers were instructed to think of the stimuli as either (a) their own child or (b) an unfamiliar child. Mothers of oppositional boys were more likely to generate negative interpretations than were control mothers when thinking of their own children; however, this difference did not generalize to the explicitly unfamiliar child condition. Mothers of oppositional boys demonstrated negative and comparison mothers demonstrated positive interpretive tendencies toward their own children. Findings suggest that child emotion cues may trigger biased maternal cognitions even in the absence of child misbehavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-380
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume31
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2003

Keywords

  • Attributions
  • Behavior problems
  • Bias
  • Mothers
  • Ownness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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