Parent-Child Interactions in Relation to Critical and Emotionally Overinvolved Expressed Emotion (EE): Is EE a Proxy for Behavior?
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- McCarty, C.A., Lau, A.S., Valeri, S.M. et al. J Abnorm Child Psychol (2004) 32: 83. doi:10.1023/B:JACP.0000007582.61879.6f
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Expressed emotion measures, encompassing dimensions of criticism (CRIT), and emotional overinvolvement (EOI) are increasingly being used to assess the parent–child relationship in child clinical populations, despite the lack of studies assessing their validity. We examined the correspondence between CRIT, EOI, and parent–child interactions as observed by neutral coders in a sample of 252 clinic-referred children and adolescents, ages 7–17 years. We found support for the validity of the CRIT code, with high critical parents showing more antagonism, negativity, disgust, harshness, and less responsiveness, compared to parents who scored in the low or borderline ranges. In contrast, none of the observed behaviors were found to correspond with parental EOI, suggesting either that this construct lacks validity with juvenile samples or that behaviors that correspond to EOI are difficult to observe. We conclude that high parental CRIT can be used as an index of problematic parent–child interactions.