Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 209–215 | Cite as

Levels of Analysis in Cognitive Bases of Maternal Disciplinary Dysfunction

  • Zvi Strassberg


This study tested alternative hypotheses concerning relations between mothers' disciplinary dysfunction and their descriptive versus inference-level interpretations of child noncompliance. Mothers of aggressive boys (MAGGs; n = 19) and mothers of average boys (MAVGs; n = 17) were presented with hypothetical vignettes of compliance situations (mean ages; mothers = 26.8 years, children = 4.5 years). Each vignette ended with the child being compliant or with each of a variety of noncompliant behaviors (request, statement, complaint, ignore, or oppose). Dependent variables were mothers' judgments of noncompliance severity (a descriptive measure), and attributions of defiant intent to the child (an inferential measure). Findings across analyses consistently pointed to attributions as more discriminating than judgments in differentiating between maternal groups. It was concluded that models of maternal discipline dysfunction should focus on analysis of inferential rather than descriptive cognitive responses to child noncompliance, and that parenting interventions should incorporate attribution-training into treatment protocols.

Discipline behavior problems attributions 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zvi Strassberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe State University of New YorkStony Brook

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