Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 165–171 | Cite as

Accuracy of Informants: Do Parents Think That Mother Knows Best?

  • Vicky Phares


A total of 200 mothers and fathers provided their opinions as to the accuracy of mothers, fathers, teachers, children's peers, and children themselves as informants of children's emotional/behavioral problems. The results showed that mothers and fathers had very similar patterns of perceptions of accuracy, although fathers' ratings showed less differentiation between informants than did mothers' ratings. Patterns were very similar for reports on children and adolescents. Overall, mothers were perceived to be more accurate in reporting internalizing problems; mothers and teachers (and fathers to a lesser extent) were perceived to be more accurate in reporting externalizing problems; mothers, fathers, and teachers were seen as more accurate in reporting children's adaptive behaviors, and mothers, fathers, and children were seen as more accurate in reporting family problems. The results are discussed in the context of multiple informants of children's and adolescents' emotional/behavioral problems.

Multiple informants parental perceptions children's emotional/behavioral problems 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the Child Behavior Checklist/4–18 and 1991 Profile. Burlington: University of Vermont, Department of Psychiatry.Google Scholar
  2. Achenbach, T. M., McConaughy, S. H., & Howell, C. T. (1987). Child/adolescent behavioral and emotional problems: Implications of cross-informant correlations for situational specificity. Psychological Bulletin, 101, 213–232.Google Scholar
  3. Ascher, B. H., Farmer, E. M. Z., Burns, B. J., & Angold, A. (1996). The Child and Adolescent Services Assessment (CASA): Description and psychometrics. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 4, 12–20.Google Scholar
  4. Biller, H. B. (1993). Fathers and families: Paternal factors in child development. Westport, CT: Auburn House.Google Scholar
  5. Brandenburg, N. A., Friedman, R. M., & Silver, S. E. (1990). The epidemiology of childhood psychiatric disorders: Prevalence findings from recent studies. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 29, 76–83.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, J. (1977). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (rev. ed.). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  7. Edelbrock, C., Costello, A. J., Dulcan, M. K., Kalas, R., & Conover, N. C. (1985). Age differences in the reliability of the psychiatric interview of the child. Child Development, 56, 265–275.Google Scholar
  8. Greenbaum, P. E., Dedrick, R. F., Prange, M. E., & Friedman, R. M. (1994). Parent, teacher, and child ratings of problem behaviors of youngsters with serious emotional disturbances. Psychological Assessment, 6, 141–148.Google Scholar
  9. Hinshaw, S. P., Simmel, C., & Heller, T. L. (1995). Multimethod assessment of covert antisocial behavior in children: Laboratory observations, adult ratings, and child self-report. Psychological Assessment, 7, 209–219.Google Scholar
  10. Hollingshead, A. B. (1975). Four factor index of social status. New Haven, CT: Yale University, Department of Sociology.Google Scholar
  11. Institute of Medicine (1989). Research on children and adolescents with mental, behavioral and developmental disorders: Mobilizing a national initiative. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  12. Johnston, C., & Patenaude, R. (1994). Parent attributions for inattentive-overactive and oppositional-defiant behaviors. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 18, 1–15.Google Scholar
  13. Landau. S., & Milich, R. (1990). Assessment of children's social status and peer relations. In A. M. La Greca (Ed), Through the eyes of the child: Obtaining self-reports from children and adolescents (pp. 259–291). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  14. Loeber, R., Green, S. M., & Lahey, B. B. (1990). Mental health professionals' perception of the utility of children, mothers, and teachers as informants on childhood psychopathology. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 19, 136–143.Google Scholar
  15. Loeber, R., Green, S. M., Lahey, B. B., & Stouthamer-Loeber, M. (1989). Optimal informants on childhood disruptive behaviors. Development and Psychopathology, 1, 317–337.Google Scholar
  16. Miller, S. A. (1995). Parents' attributions for their children's behavior. Child Development, 66, 1557–1584.Google Scholar
  17. Moos, R. H. (1990). Conceptual and empirical approaches to developing family-based assessment procedures: Resolving the case of the Family Environment Scale. Family Process, 29, 199–208.Google Scholar
  18. Phares, V. (1992). Where's Poppa? The relative lack of attention to the role of fathers in child and adolescent psychopathology. American Psychologist, 47, 656–664.Google Scholar
  19. Phares, V. (1993). Perceptions of mothers' and fathers' responsibility for children's behavior. Sex Roles, 29, 1–13.Google Scholar
  20. Phares, V. (1996). Fathers and developmental psychopathology. New York: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  21. Phares, V., & Compas, B. (1992). The role of fathers in child and adolescent psychopathology: Make room for daddy. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 387–412.Google Scholar
  22. Phares, V., Compas, B. E., & Howell, D. C. (1989). Perspectives on child behavior problems: Comparisons of children's self-reports with parent and teacher reports. Psychological Assessment: A Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1, 68–71.Google Scholar
  23. Roberts, S. (1993). Who we are: A portrait of America based on the latest U.S. Census. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  24. Seltzer, J. A., & Brandreth, Y. (1994). What fathers say about involvement with children after separation. Journal of Family Issues, 15, 49–77.Google Scholar
  25. Weisz, J. R., Suwanlert, S., Chaiyasit, W., Weiss, B., & Jackson, E. W. (1991). Adult attitudes toward over-and undercontrolled child problems: Urban and rural parents and teachers from Thailand and the United States. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 32, 645–654.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vicky Phares
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of South FloridaTampa

Personalised recommendations