Differential Parenting as a Predictor of Child Psychopathology
Courtney Ficks, Whitney Guthrie, Lisa Doelger, Karina R. Horowitz,
& Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant
Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Introduction Methods SRQ Measures – Independent Predictors Results
Recent research reported by the National Institute of Mental Reporter Agreement
Mother Report – Mother Partiality
Health has stated that over a quarter of adults in the The sample consisted of monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs (M=8.1
United States function with diagnosable mental disorders years) from the Wisconsin Twin Project. Because we are making non- Mothers and fathers:
annually. independent observations within families, one twin from each pair was ADHD •Similar levels of differential discipline (r = .63, p< .01) and affection (r =
randomly selected for analyses. Internalizing .40, p < .01), with the same child receiving more discipline and affection
Of the individuals facing lifelong struggles with these disorders, from both parents.
the onset of symptoms occurs before age 14 in an estimated fifty MacArthur Health and Behavior Questionnaire (HBQ): •For differential attention, correlations between parent reports were
Twin Report – Mother Report –
percent. Thus, it is important to understand the early causes of (Armstrong et al., 2003) significantly negative, indicating that each parent devoted more attention
these disorders in order to develop successful methods of •689 pairs were assessed for a variety of symptoms using both mother Father Partiality Father Partiality to a different twin (r = -.24, p < .01).
treatment and prevention. and father reports on this measure.
•Parent reports were combined after analyses revealed high correlations. Mothers and children:
Although the effects of parenting techniques on a child’s Composites were created for internalizing, externalizing, and ADHD. ADHD •Reports on the SRQ did not agree on the direction of received maternal
developing mental health have been frequently examined across or paternal partiality. There was minor agreement on the magnitude of
families, very few studies have examined the link between Differential Treatment Questionnaire (DTQ): differential paternal partiality (r = .17, p < .01).
differential parenting of siblings within the same family and the •Mother and father reports of their own DT were acquired for 320 twin
Twin Report – Mother Partiality
development of internalizing and externalizing disorders in these pairs using 5 of the questionnaire’s 6 items. Observers and families:
children. •Separate discipline, affection, and attention scales were created for •Observer reports did not significantly relate to most mother or child
each parent. reports of DT or partiality, but there were some exceptions.
Parents tend to report exhibiting similar levels of Differential •The twin that mothers reported disciplining more on the DTQ was
Treatment (DT), but there is not much agreement found between Sibling Relationship Questionnaire – Revised (Parent) (SRQ): observed receiving slightly higher levels of maternal intrusiveness (r =
parent and child reports (Daniels, Dunn, Furstenberg, & Plomin, (Furman & Buhrmester, 1985) .16, p < .05).
1985; Kowal, Krull, & Kramer, 2004). •314 mothers reported on both mother and father partiality
•Items rated on a 1-5 scale, indicating which twin receives more partiality Differential Treatment and Psychopathology
Objective measures of DT such as observer report are rarely from parents
included (Brody et al., 1987; Conger & Conger, 1994; Deater- •Composites created for Mother Partiality and Father Partiality using 3 •Twin symptoms of psychopathology were significantly related to both the
Deckard et al., 2001), and studies utilizing observer report have items each SRQ Maternal Partiality level and direction of differential discipline reported by parents.
not taken other measures into account.
SRQ Puppet Interview: •Children receiving higher levels of parental discipline than their twins
Parental DT behaviors tend to be consistently predictive of •Twins were given the SRQ through individual puppet interviews reliably exhibited more internalizing (r = .21, p < .01), externalizing (mean r = .28,
externalizing behaviors in children (Boyle et al., 2004; Kowal et coded on a 1-7 scale from videotape. Mother Report Twin Report p < .01), and ADHD symptoms (mean r = .32, p < .01).
al., 2002), including delinquency (Conger & Conger, 1994). •127 pairs reported on both mother and father behavior
•Separate Mother Partiality and Father Partiality composites were INTERNALIZING
Negative DT in areas such as parental control and hostility is created •Hierarchical regressions of DTQ scales revealed maternal differential
consistently tied to negative child outcomes in the more poorly discipline, β = .25, p < .001, paternal differential attention β = .12, p < .01,
treated sibling (Boyle et al., 2004; Brody, Copeland, Sutton, Observer Report: Sometimes and paternal differential affection β = .11, p= .01 as independent
Richardson, & Guyer, 1998; Conger & Conger, 1994; Deater- •Mothers participated in this videotaped interaction with both twins predictors of internalizing.
Deckard et al., 2001; Kowal et al., 2002). •Mothers taught twins how to play a card game: “Lily’s 3-for-All”
•Observed mother’s warmth, intrusiveness, and hostility toward each of •On the SRQ, mother-reported maternal partiality β = .16, p = .03 and
Positive DT in areas such as affection and attention is less the twins during the parent-child interaction were reliably coded from twin-reported paternal partiality β = .38, p < .01 significantly predicted
consistently tied to negative outcomes (Boyle et al., 2004; Wolf, videotape internalizing.
Fisman, Ellison, & Freeman, 1998; Kowal et al., 2004); however,
some report the sibling receiving more of the positive treatment to EXTERNALIZING
have fewer behavioral and emotional problems (Deater-Deckard •Levels of differential maternal and paternal discipline on the DTQ both
et al., 2001; Sheehan & Noller, 2002). SRQ Paternal Partiality emerged as the only significant predictors of child externalizing β = .23, p
DTQ Predictors < .01 and β = .13, p < .01, respectively.
Whether the perceived difference between the treatment of
children is related to child internalizing and externalizing outcomes Mother Report Twin Report •No independent predictors emerged on the SRQ.
above mean levels of parenting behavior that each child receives Internalizing
Father’s Attention Β = .12
is still unknown due to conflicting results (Feinberg & ADHD
Hetherington, 2001; Kowal et al., 2002; Tamrouti-Makkink, Dubas, •Predictors showed a similar pattern on the DTQ for ADHD as with
Gerris, & Van Aken 2004). Mother’s Affection Β = .11 No Partiality externalizing, although paternal differential discipline was only a
marginally significant predictor in this case (p = .06).
Father’s Affection Β = .25 Β = .23 Sometimes
The goals of this project are to 1)compare several measures Externalizing Partiality
of DT and determine to what extent they are in agreement, Often Partiality •SRQ mother-reported maternal partiality & twin-reported maternal
2)examine whether or not DT relates to childhood Mother’s Discipline Β = .13 partiality β = .15, p = .05 and β = .17, p = .02, respectively, and mother-
internalizing, externalizing, and ADHD, and 3)observe Father’s Discipline reported paternal partiality β = .18, p = .04 independently predicted ADHD
whether differential parenting predicts psychopathology Β = .22 symptoms.
above and beyond mean levels of parenting behaviors.
•Differential hostility predicted ADHD symptoms in the twins beyond the
mean level of observed maternal hostility during the observed interaction
β = .18, p = .02. This was the only significant observation.