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Perception of Child, Child-Rearing Values, and Emotional Distress as Mediating Links between Environmental Stressors and Observed Maternal Behavior

Rand D. Conger, John A. McCarty, Raymond K. Yang, Benjamin B. Lahey and Joseph P. Kropp
Child Development
Vol. 55, No. 6 (Dec., 1984), pp. 2234-2247
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for Research in Child Development
DOI: 10.2307/1129795
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1129795
Page Count: 14
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Perception of Child, Child-Rearing Values, and Emotional Distress as Mediating Links between Environmental Stressors and Observed Maternal Behavior
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Abstract

This observational study of 74 families investigated 3 areas of maternal psychological functioning (emotional distress, authoritarian child-rearing values, negative perceptions of children) that might mediate the relationship between 3 separate dimensions of family demographic characteristics, conceptualized as chronic environmental stressors (i. e., financial, structural, and historical circumstances), and the emotionally affective behavior of mothers. Demographic conditions accounted for 52.9% of the variance in mothers' psychological characteristics and as much as 36.6% of the variance in positive and negative behaviors to children. The psychological characteristics explained as much as 15.1% of the variance in maternal behavior. Both chronic stress and the psychological variables had an independent influence on the general emotional tone of maternal behavior. The findings provide tentative support for the conclusion that the psychological characteristics examined here partially mediate the influence of some demographic or stressful life conditions on the positive and negative behaviors of mothers.

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