Predicting Parent–Child Aggression Risk: Cognitive Factors and Their Interaction With Anger

Academic Article


  • Several cognitive elements have previously been proposed to elevate risk for physical child abuse. To predict parent–child aggression risk, the current study evaluated the role of approval of parent–child aggression, perceptions of children as poorly behaved, and discipline attributions. Several dimensions of attributions specifically tied to parents’ discipline practices were targeted. In addition, anger experienced during discipline episodes was considered a potential moderator of these cognitive processes. Using a largely multiple-indicator approach, a sample of 110 mothers reported on these cognitive and affective aspects that may occur when disciplining their children as well as responding to measures of parent–child aggression risk. Findings suggest that greater approval of parent–child aggression, negative perceptions of their child’s behavior, and discipline attributions independently predicted parent–child aggression risk, with anger significantly interacting with mothers’ perception of their child as more poorly behaved to exacerbate their parent–child aggression risk. Of the discipline attribution dimensions evaluated, mothers’ sense of external locus of control and believing their child deserved their discipline were related to increase parent–child aggression risk. Future work is encouraged to comprehensively evaluate how cognitive and affective components contribute and interact to increase risk for parent–child aggression.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 26768369
  • Author List

  • Rodriguez CM
  • Start Page

  • 359
  • End Page

  • 378
  • Volume

  • 33
  • Issue

  • 3