Parenting and personality as predictors of child and adolescent internalizing and externalizing

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Transcript of Parenting and personality as predictors of child and adolescent internalizing and externalizing

Introductioninternalizing and externalizing problem behavior
Karla Van Leeuwen
Proefschrift ingediend tot het behalen van de academische graad
van Doctor in de Psychologische Wetenschappen
2004
Dankwoord
DANKWOORD
Dit proefschrift is het resultaat van de inbreng van veel mensen. Mijn oprechte
dank gaat dan ook uit naar iedereen die mij begeleid en gesteund heeft tijdens de
periode dat ik aan het proefschrift heb gewerkt.
Mijn promotor, Prof. Dr. Verhofstadt-Denève, en copromotor, Prof. Dr.
Mervielde wil ik danken voor de mogelijkheid die ze mij boden om te werken rond
een boeiend onderwerp dat twee onderzoeksgebieden binnen ‘onze’ vakgroep
verenigt, de ontwikkelingspsychologie en de persoonlijkheidspsychologie. Leni, ik
ben jou in het bijzonder erkentelijk voor alle logistieke steun, de kansen die ik kreeg
tot bijscholing, deelname aan congressen, en het flexibel organiseren van mijn
werkzaamheden. Ivan, ik wil jou van harte danken voor de uitnodigingen tot
deelname aan congressen, intensive course en expertmeeting, voor de aanbreng van
nuttige literatuur en nieuwe ideeën, voor het nauwgezet nalezen van teksten, en niet in
het minst voor de motiverende feedback.
Daarnaast heb ik de zinvolle inhoudelijke suggesties op prijs gesteld afkomstig
van de leden van de doctoraatsbegeleidingscommissie enerzijds, met name Prof. Dr.
R. Claes, Prof. Dr. W. De Corte, en Prof. Dr. P. Van Oost, en van de anonieme
reviewers van de aangeboden manuscripten anderzijds. Ook Dr. Ad Vermulst wil ik
vermelden, met dank voor de leerrijke samenwerking!
Een gedeelte van de dataverzameling voor de studies in dit proefschrift
gebeurde in het kader van twee beleidsgerichte onderzoeken, financieel ondersteund
door de Vlaamse Gemeenschap. Deze mogelijkheid kreeg ik dankzij de promotoren
en copromotoren van de projecten, met name Prof. Dr. Caroline Braet, Prof. Dr. Leni
Verhofstadt-Denève en Prof. Dr. Ivan Mervielde. Heel graag wens ik ook alle
projectmedewerkers, Guy Bosmans, Wim De Mey, Jan De Weerdt, Thierry
Meerschaert, Els Merlevede, Ellen Moens en Anja Van Impe, te danken voor de hulp
bij de dataverzameling en de aangename samenwerking.
Het verzamelen van data kon enkel doordat honderden gezinnen bereid waren
om onbekende mensen in hun leven toe te laten en de tijd wilden nemen om
vragenlijsten in te vullen. Omdat ik dat niet als vanzelfsprekend beschouw, dank ik
Dankwoord
van harte alle ouders en kinderen die aan het onderzoek meewerkten. Een pluim ook
voor de (job)studenten die de gezinnen thuis hebben bevraagd en die gegevens hebben
ingebracht in een databestand.
Verder wil ik alle collega’s van de Vakgroep Ontwikkelings-,
Persoonlijkheids- en Sociale Psychologie bedanken, waartoe ik ook hen reken die
ondertussen een andere werkplek hebben gevonden. Ik zal jullie morele steun en jullie
prettige aanwezigheid tijdens informele gelegenheden niet licht vergeten. Speciale
dank gaat uit naar Prof. Dr. De Fruyt, Filip, voor de interesse in mijn onderzoek, de
vele ondersteunende suggesties en de ontspannende loopsessies. Barbara, onze fijne
samenwerking, de grappige momenten, babbels, en de steun bij moeilijke momenten
betekenen veel voor mij!
Ook mijn medestudenten van de opleiding Kwantitatieve Analyse in de
Sociale Wetenschappen aan de KUB, An Jacobs in het bijzonder, ben ik erkentelijk
voor het samen succesvol doorkomen van een lastig jaar.
Tenslotte zijn er nog familie en vrienden, die naast het werk voor de nodige
momenten van ontspanning zorgden. In het bijzonder wil ik mijn ouders vermelden
die steeds voor een warme opvoedingsomgeving hebben gezorgd, eerst voor hun
eigen kinderen, en nu ook voor hun kleinkinderen. Dank, ook aan mijn schoonouders,
omdat jullie altijd klaar staan voor mij en mijn gezin.
Björn, jou wil ik danken voor het scheppen van een prettige en rustige
thuisbasis, voor de tijd en ruimte die je me geeft voor werk en werkuitstappen, en niet
in het minst voor jouw fantastische manier van omgaan met onze dochtertjes. En ten
slotte wil ik Elena en Emmely zeggen dat hun vele lieve woordjes, tekeningen, leuke
verhalen, knuffels en zoentjes me heel blij maken. Dank voor alle fijne momenten,
jullie zorgden ervoor dat ik mezelf niet verloor in dit proefschrift!
Contents I
CONTENTS
Introduction 1 Method 3 Participants 3 Measures 6 Procedure 9 Statistical considerations 10 Overview of chapters 11 Chapter 1 11 Chapter 2 12 Chapter 3 13 Chapter 4 14 Chapter 5 15 References 17 Figures 22 Chapter 1: The Ghent Parental Behavior Scale: some psychometric properties 25 Abstract 25 Introduction 26 Study 1 29 Method 29 Participants 29 Materials 30 Procedure 31 Results 32 Study 2 35 Method 35 Participants 35 Materials 35 Procedure 35 Results 36 General discussion 38 References 44 Tables 50 Appendix 54 Chapter 2: A longitudinal study of the utility of the resilient, overcontrolled and undercontrolled personality types as predictors of children’s and adolescents’ problem behavior 57 Abstract 57 Introduction 58 Study 1 64 Method 64 Participants 64 Procedure 64
II Contents
Measures 65 Results 66 Conclusion 68 Study 2 69 Method 69 Participants 69 Procedure 69 Measures 69 Results 70 General discussion 72 References 76 Tables 80 Chapter 3: Child personality and parental behavior as moderators of problem behavior: a variable- and a centered approach 85 Abstract 85 Introduction 86 Study 1 94 Method 94 Participants 94 Measures 95 Procedure 97 Statistical analyses 98 Results 101 Discussion 105 Study 2 106 Method 106 Participants 106 Measures 106 Procedure 106 Results 107 Discussion 109 General Discussion 111 References 119 Tables 127 Figures 133 Chapter 4: Child personality and parental behavior as interacting predictors of child internalizing and externalizing behavior in clinically referred and non- referred children 135 Abstract 135 Introduction 136 Method 144 Participants 144 Measures 145 Procedure 147 Statistical analyses 147 Results 149 General discussion 155 References 163
Contents III
Tables 171 Figures 173 Chapter 5: Parent personality, child personality and parenting as predictors of child internalizing and externalizing behavior 179 Abstract 179 Introduction 180 Method 187 Participants 187 Measures 188 Procedure 191 Statistical analyses 191 Results 192 General discussion 198 References 204 Tables 212 Figures 215 General conclusions 219 The relative contribution of child personality, parent personality and parenting to child problem behavior 219 Clinical implications 224 Limitations and suggestions for further research 226 Final conclusion 229 References 230 Samenvatting 233 Hoofdstuk 1 234 Hoofdstuk 2 236 Hoofdstuk 3 238 Hoofdstuk 4 239 Hoofdstuk 5 241 Algemeen besluit 243 Klinische implicaties 246 Referenties 248
Introduction 1
INTRODUCTION
This doctoral dissertation focuses on the question why some children and adolescents
show problem behavior whereas others do not. It is examined to what extent this can be
explained by individual differences, i.e. child personality and parent personality, and
environmental influences, i.e. child-rearing behavior. This will enable us to find some
tentative answers on the following leading questions: does parental behavior only matter for
some kinds of children and not for others; do some child personality characteristics serve as a
protective or a risk factor in rather inadequate rearing environments; is it possible to identify
certain ‘types’ of children who are more or less vulnerable showing problem behavior in the
presence of certain parental behavior; do different forms of parental behavior elicit different
outcomes; do personality characteristics and parent behaviors differentially affect emotional
or behavioral problems in children; are child personality and parenting in the same way
related to problem behavior across referred and non-referred children; how is parent
personality related to aspects of parenting, child personality and child outcome behavior?
The majority of the participants in our studies are parents and children from the
general population. We concentrate on two developmental stages in the life course: childhood
and adolescence.
The principal outcome variable is the child’s (mal)adaptive behavior. Because the
samples predominantly consist of non-referred children, we utilize an empirically based,
dimensional approach, to assess behavioral and emotional problems, i.e. the Achenbach
System of Empirically Based Assessment (1991; 1995a; 1995b), instead of a categorical
taxonomy of psychopathology such as the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders). More in particular we center our attention on the two broadband syndromes
internalizing and externalizing behavior, referring to emotional and behavioral problems
respectively.
The major predictors in our research are based on measures comprising items that
describe the normal or adaptive range of individual characteristics and parenting. It is
assumed that scoring at the extremes of these measures reflects maladaptive features. The
predictor variables are measures with a sound theoretical base. The social interactional theory
of Patterson and colleagues from the Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC) serves as a
framework for the parenting variables. Patterson’s micro or ‘coercion’ theory states that
2 Introduction
maladaptive child behavior is the result of a series of social interactional processes, involving
the contingent use of aversive behavior combined with ineffective parent management
techniques, such as inconsistent punishment and reinforcement. The macro-level model (see
Figure 1) hypothesizes that parenting practices mediate the relationships between child
adjustment and family background contexts (Reid, Patterson & Snyder, 2002). Specific
family management practices such as monitoring, discipline (also referred to as ‘limit
setting’), positive reinforcement, problem solving and parental involvement, are considered
as crucial (Capaldi & Patterson, 1989; Patterson, Reid and Dishion, 1992). In our study the
personality variables are based on the Five Factor Model (FFM) of Personality. This robust
reference-model of personality can be used to represent personality not only in adults but also
in children and adolescents (Kohnstamm, Halverson, Mervielde & Havil, 1998; Shiner &
Caspi, 2003).
The field of developmental psycho(patho)logy, assumes that child developmental
outcomes can only be predicted by considering multiple determinants. From an ecological or
contextual perspective, the child is nested within a complex network of interconnected
systems (Belsky, 1984; Bronfenbrenner, 1986; Dishion, French & Patterson, 1995; Sameroff,
2000). These models suggest concurrent effects of the determinants, fostering the need for
exploratory research investigating interactions between predictor variables (Hinshaw, 2002).
In a heuristic model (see Figure 2) graphing the determinants of parenting and child
developmental outcomes, Belsky (1984), posits that three domains determine the quality of
parenting: (a) characteristics of the parent, (b) characteristics of the child, and (c) contextual
sources of stress and support, such as the marital relationship, the social network and work
experiences. Parent personality is considered as the most important determinant of parenting.
The nodes in the model are linked by specific pathways. Our dissertation is related to this
ecological perspective in the sense that it includes multiple determinants of child outcome
behavior, such as parent personality, child personality and parenting. In addition, we test
some of the assumptions of Belsky’s model.
According to Sameroff (1975) child behavior can be explained by three models. A
first model is the ‘main effects model’, explaining outcomes by either constitutional or
environmental factors. Several results of studies examining the main effects of child
individual differences and parenting will be discussed as part of the introduction of some of
the chapters. The second model, the ‘interactional effects model’, explains child behavior by
the statistical interaction of constitutional and environmental factors. Interactional effects are
suggested by Thomas and Chess’ goodness-of-fit-theory’ (1977), postulating that
Introduction 3
maladaptive child behavior is the result of a mismatch between a difficult child temperament
and parenting practices. In theory, temperament does not lead to behavioral problems by
itself, it has only an effect in conjunction with particular environments (Bates, Pettit, Dodge
& Ridge, 1998). Finally, the ‘transactional effects model’ examines developmental outcomes
in the recurrent reciprocal interchanges over time between the environment (parents and
others) and the child. Patterson’s ‘coercive cycles’ model (1982), is an example of the
transactional effects model, postulating bidirectional influences between children and parents
(Lytton, 1990). A child’s aggressive antisocial behavior is followed by aversive reactions by
the parent, which in turn escalates the child’s negative behavior. The focus of this dissertation
can be linked to the interactional effects model: in two chapters we investigate child
personality by parenting interactions to explain child behavior.
Method
Participants
The dissertation utilizes data from two samples consisting of non-referred children
and their parents, and one sample including referred children and their mothers. Sample 1
was measured at two assessment occasions separated by a 3-year interval1. Table 1 indicates
the use of the samples across the various chapters.
Table 1
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
Sample 1 (T1)
T1 = Time 1, T2 = Time 2 (3 year follow-up data )
1 The Sample 1 data at Time 1 were collected as part of a research project funded by the Flemish Community
(bel96/32), entitled “Deficits in parenting skills as an indicator of behavior problems with children and youth.
Development of a screening instrument for the Flemish community”, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. L.
Verhofstadt-Denève and Prof. Dr. I. Mervielde. Sample 1 follow-up data were collected as part of a research
project entitled 'Research on the effectiveness of an ecological intervention for children with conduct disorder'
funded by the Flemish Community (PBO99A/48-50/75), under the supervision of Prof. Dr. C. Braet and Prof.
Dr. L. Verhofstadt-Denève.
4 Introduction
Table 2 summarizes the characteristics of the non-referred samples. All children have
the Belgian nationality, and the parents are able to read and understand the Dutch language.
We examined if Sample 1 is representative with respect to family characteristics,
parents’ educational level and parents’ employment by comparing this sample with a
representative general community sample of Van den Bergh (1997), who investigated the
quality of life in school-aged children. The family composition was somewhat different, χ²(2)
= 11.95, p < .01, because of more single-parent families in Sample 1. The educational level
differed for mothers, χ²(5) = 12.37, p < .05, and fathers, χ²(5) = 25.46, p < .05, but not as a
consequence of an overrepresentation of the higher educational levels. There was a difference
in employment status for mothers χ²(2) = 9.75, p < .01, but not for fathers χ²(2) = 1.16, p >
.05. Although small differences between the two samples are present, it can be concluded that
the subjects of Sample 1 represent all the broad socio-economic strata. In particular the
sample characteristics do not corroborate the often-suggested concern that only middle- or
higher-class families voluntarily participate in research studies.
Second, we compared the characteristics of Sample 1 (Time 1) and Sample 2, because
these two samples are both used in chapters 1 and 5. The samples differed with respect to
family composition, χ²(2) = 27.62, p < .001, due to the absence of single-parent families in
Sample 2. There was also a difference in educational level of mothers, χ²(5) = 36.96, p <
.001, and fathers χ²(5) = 23.55, p < .001, due to an overrepresentation of the higher
educational level in Sample 2. The sampling method for Sample 2, i.e. students selected
families they knew well, presumably increased the chances for inclusion of middle- or
higher-class families. There were no differences between Sample 1 and 2 as regards the
employment status of mothers, χ²(2) = 1.24, p > .05, and fathers, χ²(2) = 3.34, p > .05.
Finally, we compared the characteristics of the two assessment occasions of Sample
1, because not all the subjects questioned at Time 1 continued participation at Time 2. Chi-
square statistics showed no significant differences for family characteristics, χ²(2) = 2.91, p >
.05, social indices for mothers, χ²(5) = 2.24, p > .05, and fathers, χ²(5) = 1.42, p > .05, and
employment status for mothers χ²(2) = 2.36, p > .05, and fathers χ²(2) = 0.24, p > .05. The
ratio boys/girls, χ²(1) = .07, p > .05, and mothers/fathers, χ²(1) = .03, p > .05 remained the
same over the two assessment moments. Hence, it can be concluded that dropouts did not
form a particular subgroup of the sample and that potential statistical differences between the
two assessment moments are not the consequence of socio-demographic differences.
Introduction 5
Table 2
Sample Sample 1 Sample 1
3 year F.U. Sample 2
Time of data collection 1994-1995 1998-1999 2001-2002 2000 Selection of subjects via schools schools students Response rate of parents (%) 58 40 85 / N families 1789 600 512 175 n mothers n fathers N parents
1005 235 1240
596 535 1131
501 443 944
175 175 350
n male target children n female target children N children
871 918 1789
281 319 600
244 268 512
155 195 350
6-12 9.2
84.4 11.3 4.3
82.0 9.8 8.2
79.4 9.2 11.4
91.4 8.0 0.6
24-52 36.0
22-66 39.0
26-63 40.6 (5.0)
33-66 43.7 (4.9)
26-60 41.1 (4.6)
Mother’s educational level (*) (%) 1. Elementary school 2. Secondary school : level 1 3. Secondary school : level 2 4. Secondary school : level 3 5. Higher education 6. University degree
13.4 18.1 16.2 12.9 31.3 8.1
12.9 17.6 21.8 9.1 29.7 8.7
12.8 14.9 21.1 10.7 31.6 8.9
4.0 9.1 16.0 10.3 51.4 9.1
Father’s educational level (*) (%) 1. Elementary school 2. Secondary school : level 1 3. Secondary school : level 2 4. Secondary school : level 3 5. Higher education 6. University degree
12.7 20.0 18.3 10.2 23.6 15.2
7.9 16.3 25.1 8.1 29.4 13.3
6.2 16.4 24.6 9.3 29.7 13.8
2.3 8.6 19.4 9.1 38.9 21.7
Mother’s employment status (%) - housewife - not employed - employed
17.3 9.6 73.1
19.3 5.5 75.2
16.1 6.6 77.3
16.0 4.6 79.4
0.4 5.2 94.4
0.6 4.1 95.3
0.9 4.1 95.0
0.0 1.7 98.3
Note: (*) The educational level refers to the highest level of education expressed in a hierarchical classification (elementary
school = elementary school level, lower vocational schooling and special education; secondary school level 1 = lower
secondary technical and higher vocational schooling ; secondary school level 2 = higher secondary technical and lower
general schooling; secondary school level 3 = higher general schooling)
6 Introduction
Measures
Table 2 summarizes the measures and informants used to assess the variables in the
dissertation. The collection of independent data from mothers, fathers and children was
supported by two motives: (a) the importance of consulting multiple sources of information
in order to increase the reliability of the information; (b) avoiding the phenomenon of
‘mother blaming’. Given that mothers are supposed to be more involved with primary child-
care, they are an easy target to blame when something goes wrong with their children
(Gerlsma & Emmelkamp, 1994). On the other hand, the role of the father has often been
neglected in research, or regarded as secondary (Perris, 1994).
Table 3
Variable Measure Informant Child Psychopathology Child Behavior Checklist Mother
Father Youth Self Report (*) Child Child Personality Hierarchical Personality Inventory for Children Mother
Father Questionnaire Big Five (*) Child Parent Personality NEO-PI-R Mother
Father Parental behavior Ghent Parental Behavior Scale Mother
Father Child about mother Child about father
Parenting stress Parenting Stress Index Mother Father
Note: (*) Only measured in sample 1, Time 2
Child problem behavior - Parent ratings. The Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist
(CBCL) (Verhulst, Van der Ende & Koot, 1996) is a screening instrument for behavioral and
emotional problems in children. Parents rate the frequency of 113 problematic behaviors by
means of a 3-point-Likert scale. Two broadband syndromes can be derived: Internalizing,
with items referring to somatic complaints, social withdrawal, and anxiety/depression, and
Externalizing, including items related to aggression, hyperactivity, and delinquency. There is
evidence for good internal consistency of the scales, acceptable test-retest-reliability, and
cross-cultural construct validity (Dedrick, Greenbaum, Friedman, Wetherington & Knoff,
1997; De Groot, Koot & Verhulst, 1994; Verhulst et al., 1996). In this dissertation only the
broadband scales Internalizing and Externalizing behavior are examined as outcome
Introduction 7
measures. Some CBCL scales are not included: Social problems, Attention problems and
Thought problems.
Child problem behavior - Child ratings. Sample 1 children and adolescents were
administered at time 2 the Dutch version of the Youth Self Report (YSR; Verhulst, Van der
Ende & Koot, 1997), a parallel measure of the CBCL. This provided self-reports on
internalizing and externalizing problem behavior.
Parental behavior - Parent ratings. The Ghent Parental Behavior Scale (GPBS; Van…