Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 197–218 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Parents’ and Children’s Automatic Thoughts in a College Student Sample

  • Reesa Donnelly
  • Kimberly Renk
  • Valerie K. Sims
  • Jack McGuire
Original Article


Research demonstrates the importance of early social interactions in the development of schemas and automatic thoughts. It does not appear, however, that the existing research examines intergenerational correlations in automatic thoughts. As a result, this study explores the relationship between the automatic thoughts of parents and those of their college-age children in a sample of 252 college students and their mothers and fathers. Results of this study suggest that there are significant relationships between parents’ and college students’ positive automatic thoughts. Different trends by gender also are noted in the relationships among variables for male and female college students with their mothers and fathers. Further, mothers’ positive ATs predicted the positive ATs of their college students, with mothers’ ratings of their own communication with their college students mediating partially this relationship. Finally, college students’ anxiety and self-esteem is predicted significantly by their mothers’ anxiety and self-esteem (respectively) as well as their own positive and negative ATs. These findings suggest the possibility that ATs play a role in the intergenerational transmission of certain domains of psychological functioning.


Automatic thoughts Depression Anxiety Self-esteem Communication 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reesa Donnelly
    • 1
  • Kimberly Renk
    • 2
  • Valerie K. Sims
    • 2
  • Jack McGuire
    • 2
  1. 1.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Central FloridaOrlandoUSA

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