Date of Award:

1-1-1990

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Brent C. Miller

Abstract

Attribution theory has become increasingly prominent in social psychology in the last few decades. Insights from attribution theory were used to guide the development of a parenting program . The program was delivered to a group of mothers and fathers of middle-school children in a 5-week parenting program. Parents who volunteered for the program were randomly assigned to treatment and control (delayed treatment) conditions. The program emphasized the dangers of biases in perception and encouraged empathic communication. Parents were encouraged to discuss their own parenting dilemmas in the class. Handouts and reminders were used to help parents understand and remember the pOints of the sessions. Both the parents and their middle-school children gave reports on parent behavior before the program began and after its conclusion. While there were no differences between treated and untreated parents on most child-report measures, children consistently rated parents in the experimental group more favorably than those in the control group when asked to indicate changes in the parents' behavior. Apparently the parenting program made some improvements in parents' nurturing behaviors as perceived by themselves and their middle-school children. It was concluded that the insights of attribution theory can help parents improve their nurturing behavior. Difficult methodological issues about measuring changes in behavior remain unresolved. The implications of this project for practice include the recommendation that parenting programs account for cognitive as well as behavioral processes. Applications for parenting programs and the methodology of their evaluation are discussed.

Comments

Attribution theory has become increasingly prominent in social psychology in the last few decades. Insights from attribution theory were used to guide the development of a parenting program . The program was delivered to a group of mothers and fathers of middle-school children in a 5-week parenting program. Parents who volunteered for the program were randomly assigned to treatment and control (delayed treatment) conditions. The program emphasized the dangers of biases in perception and encouraged empathic communication. Parents were encouraged to discuss their own parenting dilemmas in the class. Handouts and reminders were used to help parents understand and remember the pOints of the sessions. Both the parents and their middle-school children gave reports on parent behavior before the program began and after its conclusion. While there were no differences between treated and untreated parents on most child-report measures, children consistently rated parents in the experimental group more favorably than those in the control group when asked to indicate changes in the parents' behavior. Apparently the parenting program made some improvements in parents' nurturing behaviors as perceived by themselves and their middle-school children. It was concluded that the insights of attribution theory can help parents improve their nurturing behavior. Difficult methodological issues about measuring changes in behavior remain unresolved. The implications of this project for practice include the recommendation that parenting programs account for cognitive as well as behavioral processes. Applications for parenting programs and the methodology of their evaluation are discussed.

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