Journal of Family Violence

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 61–80 | Cite as

The impact of stress on cognitive components of child abuse potential

  • Cynthia J. Schellenbach
  • Linda D. Monroe
  • Thomas V. Merluzzi


The purpose of the present research was to test the effects of situational stress on the components of the cognitive behavioral model, including expectations, interpretations, and behavioral responses to child behaviors (Twentyman et al., 1985). It was predicted that parental abuse potential would be positively related to inappropriate expectations, to negative and internally caused interpretations of child behavior, and to negative parental responses. Second, it was expected that interpretations and responses would be more negative as child abuse potential increased. Sixteen mothers from a child abuse prevention and treatment program completed the Child Abuse Potential Inventory (Milner and Wimberly, 1980) and provided interpretations, evaluations, and responses to a set of vignettes depicting normal child behaviors. The data supported the hypotheses. As abuse potential increased, parent responses were judged as more controlling, punishing, rejecting, and aroused. High stress strengthened the magnitude of these responses. These findings were interpreted within the context of a cognitive behavioral model.

Key words

stress child abuse potential 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia J. Schellenbach
    • 1
  • Linda D. Monroe
    • 1
  • Thomas V. Merluzzi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre Dame

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