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Clark et al., (2017)

Filed under: Uncategorized — drcb @ 11:24 am
34 Comments to “Clark et al., (2017)”
  1. Chalana says:

    So here is what I got from reading the article Clark, A. D., Durbin, C.E., Donnellan, B. M. & Neppl, T.K. (2017). Internalizing
    symptoms and personality traits color parental reports of child temperament. Journal of Personality, 85(6).

    Effective parenting has become one of the significant challenges to most couples in the contemporary society. Apparently, most parents have sought to find answers on how to effectively raise their children to avoid various challenges associated with parenting. Arguably, the behavior of a child has, in most cases, been attributed to the type of parenting that they received. Raising a very temperamental child instigates sensitive questions to both parents with regard to their psychological state. Clark, Durbin, Donnellan and Neppl (2017) aimed at analyzing the personality perception in children based on the behavior of their parents. Specifically, they focused on analyzing the temperamental aspect of children because it has in most cases been associated to parenting.

    Psychologically, a child ape most of the things that happen around him or her in the course of growing. In this regard, the temperamental behavior of a child is always influenced by having depressed parents. Critically, depression distorts the parental perception of a child leading to poorly raised child. Clark, Durbin, Donnellan and Neppl relate depression to wrong child perception, making them become temperamental. Further, the temperamental behavior of a child is equally influenced by the psychological characteristics of the parental perceptions. Simply put, parental biasness thinking about their child eventually predicts their behavior. Therefore, bias parental decisions lead to raising a child wrongly. For instance, parents who view their son as a brave kid motivates him to actualize the perception. In effect, the child strives to always make brave decisions to avoid disappointing his parents’ perception.

    This article utilized data collected from both mothers and fathers to determine the impact of parental depression on a child’s temper. Critically, the collected data was effective because it depicted fundamental psychological aspects which affect parents with a temperamental child. It is therefore effective to conclude that the findings of this article on parental perceptions affects the child. Analytically, a psychologically-depressed parent makes wrong and biased decision which in turn affects their child.

  2. Ashley Olivera says:

    Ashley Olivera
    Clarke et al., (2017)

    According to Clarke et al., (2017), it has been shown that parental reports concerning their child’s temperament is correlated to the parent’s psychological functioning. One should acknowledge that although part of the study relies on two-parent parental reports, it is not certain that both parents will be able to give accurate reports considering one parent may be more actively involved in their child’s life than the other due to external factors such as work, education, etc. I also think it would be interesting to focus on differences in children’s temperament when it comes to households where a step-parent is involved compared to those raised by two biological parents. Cases involving divorce already bring an array of complications and psychological damage, especially when it involves children at such a young age. Having a new third party such as a step-parent brought into the household may cause the children to act out and increase the chances of temperamental behaviors being displayed by the child.

    Disagreements between parents concerning their child’s temperament were associated with the psychological functioning of both parents. It has also been shown that the parents’ psychological well-being plays an active role in their child’s overall development, including any negative attributes associated in their behavior. When it comes to raising a child, it is a struggle not to let ones’ own psychological issues such as depression, affect one’s parenting style and the child’s overall psychological being. However, the way in which the parent views their child may also influence how the child acts. It is possible that in some cases, regardless of the parents’ psychological state; the views of the parents can encourage the child to attempt to live up to or even surpass their parent’s expectations of them.

    • Hande says:

      I agree with your suggestion as to look into step-parent households. Although, divorce could be seen as a negative and a damaging experience, there are studies out there that tells us bringing a step-parent could be worse for older children (11 and up). On the other hand, younger children has easier time to adjust or even accept the new situation. It would also be interesting to look into blended families.

    • Emela Nurja says:

      I really liked your last thought regarding the way parents view their children and their psychological well being. I completely agree with you that the way the child is raised and brought up can truly effect how they see the world. I had also mentioned in my passage that if parents bring up their children in a positive light, then the child will be more motivated to do better throughout life. I am a parent myself to a little toddler and though life is one big roller coster I feel that regardless how stressed I may be at times or upset I try my hardest to not let my son see because I have noticed that he feeds off of my behavior. As multiple studies have shown when I encourage him and praise him every time he does something positive ,he is so eager to do it again and learn more.

    • drcb says:

      “the way in which the parent views their child may also influence how the child acts”

      Good point. There are so many interactions with this parent-child stuff!

  3. Caroline Nester says:

    I found the Clark et al (2017) article to be fascinating and evocative. The complexities and nuances of personality across the lifespan, family dynamics and relationships, and the interactions of environment, behavior, and genes on child personality were topics/conundrums that this research brought to my mind. The authors use of the tri-factor model and sophisticated data-analytic techniques were somewhat inaccessible at times, as someone who does not do this kind of research nor has advanced education in these more complex statistical procedures, but in general the article was compelling and user-friendly. A few problems stand out to me as potential areas of weakness, however. One broad premise of this work was to examine how symptoms of anxiety and depression in parents shape the way in which they view their children; however, they only use one assessment of these “internalizing symptoms” that asked about feelings over the “past week.” I am concerned that this measure might have captured a brief window of merely mood or emotion – more state-like that personality trait. To extrapolate this one measure as a global trait-like depression/anxiety in parents gives me some pause. Additionally, another potential limitation I found that interests me is the age of the child when the parents rated the “target” child’s temperament. Most of the children were rated at age 3, yet others were rated at age 4, and others still at age 5. I am curious how personality and temperament might drastically evolve over these young ages. A 3-year-old is developmentally, behaviorally, and cognitively profoundly different from a 5-year-old. I don’t know this literature very well, but I imagine that temperament generally morphs and changes across such early developmental periods (much more so at other points in the lifespan). Also, the parent-child interactions are vastly different when the child is 3, versus when the child is 5 years old. The parents might form very different impressions of their 5-year-old child (who is almost certainly more verbal and less dependent in some ways on the parent) than of their 3-year-old child (who is just out of the “terrible-twos”). This appears to me as a potential confound in the design of this current study; however, it might be an interesting question to explore in future research.

    • Pashminder Kaur says:

      In the article, Internalizing Symptoms and Personality Traits Color Parental Reports of Child Temperament, main purpose was to extend existing work on depression and the parent report method by examining the extent to which different kinds of internalizing symptoms and personality traits relate to parental rating of temperament.
      Clarke et al. (2017) mentioned, “Childhood temperament represents the foundation of adult’s personality,” which in my opinion, is quite true, as proven in the result section of the article. According to Clarke et al. (2017), a child’s temperament is associated with the adult’s personality. However, the author’s findings were based off of only questionnaires; such as: Child Behavior Questionnaire, The Mini-Mood and Anxiety Symptom Questionnaire, and Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire Brief Form. The approached used to assess temperament in this study was the informant type. Using the informant approach is a great way to extend the study of examining different kinds of internalizing symptoms and personality traits relating to parental rating of temperament; however, it’s not the best approach. Parents can give false information when filling out the questionnaire; participant expectancies (parents may answer the questions based on what the experimenter wants), participants reactance (parents may answer the questions based on what the experimenter doesn’t want) and lastly, evaluation apprehension (parents may answer questions in ways that will make them look good). When conducting this study, the best approach would be home observation approach, as well as filling out the questionnaires. This approach allows the experimenter to compare both results and come up with concrete outcome.
      In addition, another drawback to this study was that majority of the participants were European American and children were chosen at quite a young age. When conducting this study, it should generalize to other cultures as well, to see if other parents reported similarly or differently towards their child’s temperament. Also, a longitudinal study should be done where parents complete questionnaires over time to see if the results differ or identical to the previous responses. This is because as children get older, they mature. It’s difficult to assess children at a young age, especially at the age of 3 because they haven’t fully developed cognitively and emotionally.

    • Pashminder Kaur says:

      I agree with your opinion Caroline, the parent-child interactions are vastly different when the child is 3, versus when the child is 5 years old. When i worked in a preschool setting, parent-child interaction were different when they are 2 years old versus when they are 4 years old. At the age of 2, the parents would stay with them in the classroom until they are comfortable and ready to play with their peers; whereas at the age of 4, parents drop off their children and leave the school thinking that their child won’t cry because they are a bit older and will easily adapt to the setting quicker than 2 years old.

    • Lexi Pritchett says:

      Caroline I also agree with you about the age differential and wonder if somewhere in their statistical model the researchers factored in age. I’d predict that as the child gets older their temperament becomes more stable and easily observable between parents. However, as they get older children also spend less time directly interacting with their parents as they become more independent, so perhaps this added distance can actually make parental judgements of temperament less reliable? Either way, a shortcoming of most research studies is the “take what you can get” dataset, and I’m sure the researchers felt that a larger sample size was worth the added variability in ages.

  4. Emela Nurja says:

    This specific read was rather interesting to read in the sense of depth the experimenters went into in order to get better results after gathering data on different internalizing symptoms and personality traits related to perceptions of child temperament. With that said there was definitely some pros and cons throughout the article. First, I felt that the population pole was relatively small, in order to get a better understanding and more generalizability throughout, experiments should have a much larger participant pole. Another disadvantage, I felt I should point out is in regards of each parent were asked to self-report their own characteristics. Assessing your own characteristics comes with complications causing the results to be biased. I, a parent myself feel that how I see my child or act around them is strictly through my eyes therefore, what I think is right for my child might not be the same as another parent’s view.

    Though the participant pole was small, I felt that the findings at large were clear and agreeable. Such as, parents who are psychologically-depressed would most likely make wrong and/or biased decisions when it comes to their child. With that said, I feel that can be generalized to a non-parent as well when making any type of decision because, when one is emotionally detached from the world and incapable of thinking straight it is clear that wrong decisions are prone to be made. Furthermore, the article mentions the psychological characteristics of the parental perceptions towards their child. I would strongly agree that a child’s behavior is activated based on their parent’s perspective of them. Such as if a parent raises a child with positive behavior and lots of encouragement then essentially that child will be motivated to thrive in their goals. Whereas, if a parent is constantly telling their child their worthless and wont mount to anything, then realistically that child will not have any inspiration in them to achieve much throughout life.

    • Melissa Chavez says:


      Your last two sentences made me understand the purpose of the study a bit more now. I think what confused me the most is how does that concept relate to method they used with the parents–which is mood/emotion. For example, parents who are getting divorce; is this study suggesting that (since divorced parents are more likely stressed during the process) they are going to act on these “internal symptoms” onto their child and thus affecting their child’s temperament? It is still unclear to me.

      • Emela Nurja says:

        Yes I agree, the study was a little confusing at first to me as well when reading it. However, I believe the point they are trying to make for that particular section is that a parents well-being and how they view their child may later on in the future effect their development and how the child grows and behaves. So with your question regarding divorce parents, I do believe that because they are going through a lot of stress during that long process and at the same time learning to be a single parent they are more likely to present higher negative behaviors in front or towards the child and thus affecting the child’s temperament. I’m sure you have read or even heard parents saying children feed off of the parents behavior and I must say having a little one of my own that is so true. If I am happy and show positive emotions my little one is glowing however, if I’m stressed and he sees it his mood is not so pleasant.

      • drcb says:

        I think the authors were primarily trying to get at the often observed low r’s between parents’ reports of child temperament.

  5. Lexi Pritchett says:

    This study set out to address an important research problem given that parent reports of child behavior only modestly correlates with other measures (lab assessment, home observations) and moderately with other informants. In the background section the authors provide the statistic that previous father-mother correlations range between r = .20 – .60, but these authors don’t discuss correlations between individual temperament variables that may have guided their analysis in a more detailed fashion. For instance, in a psychometric evaluations of the IBQ-R (the infant version of the CBQ), interrater reliability have shown the highest correlation between primary and secondary caregivers for judgments of infant fearfulness with r = .75 and lowest correlation for soothability with r = .06 (Gartstein & Rothbart, 2003). I think findings like this spark more interesting discussions of what explains the statistical results observed. For instance, low inter-rater reliability for soothability can possibly be explained by the different soothing techniques utilized by a father vs. a mother. I don’t feel like after reading this article (carefully!) that I have a firm take away message regarding a potential explanation for the differences in parents’ perception, just that there generally are observed differences that are associated with parental mood and personality. In this analysis smiling/laughter, approach, sadness, and low intensity pleasure seem to be the least correlated between parents but it’d be interesting to discuss possible explanations for each.

    Although an evaluation of the trifactor statistical model and its applications is well beyond my current understanding and paygrade, this raises an issue I sometimes have with this type of research in general, namely that I wonder how this model accurately captures and informs real life. With any of these findings I always ask myself the “so what?” question. The authors state that individual effects of any one type of parent symptom/trait was small to moderate, but summed together it explained a lot of the variance, but I’m not sure what that actually means in terms of work with families. Seemingly this finding just informs future research studies, making researchers aware that they should control for parental attributes that may bias questionnaire responses. I think more importantly, the influence of these parents traits on parenting behaviors needs to be addressed.

    I am particularly interested in a discussion of the two models briefly discussed by the authors in the beginning (the distortion model and the accuracy model). Although the distortion model is more supported, I can absolutely see an argument for the accuracy model given other models of depression and cognition/attentional biases. Regardless of parental pathology, two parents interact with the infant at separate times and their unique interactions may elicit different behaviors in the infant, that are then interpreted accordingly. It’s thus difficult to disentangle whether initial interactions between a depressed parent and their child contributes to the variability in temperament reports. Negative interactions would bring out more negative infant behavior and then the temperament report by the parent would actually be accurate. Or regardless of the interaction, will a depressed parent always see threat and negativity in the ambiguous behavior of an infant? I think this study would benefit substantially from a more controlled and experimental design in which both parents are exposed to the same infant behavior. For instance, showing a video of a child and having parents interpret the child’s temperament from the observed behavior may elicit different interpretations of the same behavior between parent and between groups of parents with different affective and personality traits.

    • Gabriella Robinson says:

      Lexi, your comment really resonated with me. I too found the trisector statistical model to be very complex, and found myself wondering (as I too often do with every article) how do we move from statistical significance to real world significance & questioning whether this and other articles succeeded in doing that. I too feel as though this study simply adds to the literature, and I too felt that what would have taken it a step further was to mention the findings in relation to the distortion model and the accuracy model. I think your comment that parental involvement might actually elicit different behaviors in the child, is insightful. I hadn’t considered that some disagreement in the parental ratings of the child could be due to different parental characteristics exciting different behaviors in the child (this is probably especially the case with very young children).

    • Daniel Saldana says:

      Lexi, I also found myself asking the “so what?” question. My immediate reaction was to think of therapy (although I recognize the main discussion points for this article were in the findings’ relation to research) and how this can inform treatment. I think the study provides several interesting points to consider, including that paternal and maternal figures are not differentially affected by their intrapersonal psychic processes. To me, this meant that when collecting data through self-report questionnaires, as clinicians we should we be wary of what may be affecting or influencing any data/information reported by the parents so as to not erroneously overpathologize a young child.

  6. Tiara Newson says:

    While reading this article I liked that the study was not just a laboratory experiment but an ongoing social analysis taken place within a family household. It was both experimental and empirical. Although it isn’t my field of interest, it was exciting to come across a study with social work aspects. A great quality of the study is that it allowed the actual participants to potentially become conscious of their thoughts and feelings towards their children’s behavior and if their judgment is a cause of depression. So it wasn’t just an experiment that brought further research findings to its field, but also influenced the individuals within the study throughout the study’s duration.

    I believe this study had a lot of substance to it and brought some understanding to the subject being studied but it was lacking needed additions to the study. The factor models formed by experimenters seemed to be nicely structured, but i feel the data doesn’t give us much support for the subject being addressed. The main reason the study didn’t reach its full potential is because the researchers did not observe the family life of parents with non-depressive symptoms. This is extremely important. The only comparison made was between fathers and mothers, and a little attention given comparing single moms to those married. These comparisons could have acted as added independent variables that were not the true measure. Without the comparison of depressed and non depressed parents how could we accurately exame the findings that “disagreement was related to psychological functioning”. It was great that they added extended family members’ input but i do not believe it was enough.
    I also do not thing that self-report is enough of a reliable source. Its very much possible that parents answered questions according to how they want to view their kids’ behavior. Most parents wouldn’t want to give a negative report of their child, whether depressed or not. They may want to protect their children’s character as well as their own as parents.

    The Fergasson Accuracy Model mentioned within the article gave findings I found to be more useful to the subject. They gave results that I believe can be supported through other research done in other areas of psychology. Their findings suggest that depressed parents have a more accurate view of their children’s behavior, whereas non-depressed parents have a more positive inaccurate view. Many social psychology articles would back these findings up because it has been found that those who have a more depressed or negative outlook contain a more accurate view of life. Which is very interesting. I feel that this is probably so, but it’s okay to have a positive, hopeful view of life, especially with your children. Maybe people know the truth but want to remain hopeful for possible progress, especially with their child’s behavior.

    • Mahathi Kosuri says:

      Tiara, great point about the fact that observing family dynamics. I think that is very crucial, but its hard in this area of research to get such a full scope with so many different research methods because of ethical issues and/or the effects of observational research. I know self-report isn’t a reliable source but in this study I think its actually interesting to use self report, being that they measured two constructs seemingly independent from each other and saw of there were a correlation. But, I think when studying parent-child interactions, it is very difficult to obtain objectivity when using self-report.

    • Melissa Henao says:

      Hi Tiara,

      One of the first things I also thought was that maybe the control group for the study would have been parents with non depressive states. I thought the study was really good and interesting but I do think that it would’ve been a stronger study to also include statistics done from a separate method for this group. I also agree with the self report being a slight issue for this study. I was also wondering to what extent would the more depressed parents accurately rate their child. I think some parents may not answer truthfully on their child’s behaviors because they know it may reflect on their parenting. I do think they made a good attempt to balance this limitation out well though since they asked other family members.

    • drcb says:

      Regarding depressive symptoms (or lack thereof), the authors used the Mini-MASQ to assess depression, anxiety, etc., Via this continuous measure, they were able to assess relationships between depression and parental reporting. Any result regarding depression (e.g., Mothers’ general distress was negatively associated with consensus) can be interpreted for people who are NOT depressed as well. So for the result I mentioned, moms who were not distressed had higher consensus.

  7. Gabriella Robinson says:

    In reading the Clark article I often found myself confused/lost in its heavy theoretical mathematical analysis. Beyond the well written introduction, the discussion and implications sections are where I began to grasp again what the experimenters actually gleaned from all of the factor loadings. I found it interesting that the introduction built up a case for using more than one experimental method, but then relied on one checklist and only parental report (vs a second check list measure of the child, and teacher or family friend report of the child’s behavior coupled with the parent’s report. I recognize that the objective here was to determine whether the parents report reflected accuracy in reporting their child’s temperament and whether any disagreement would reflect the parent’s characteristics, so while it is in the limitations section, it was also in the intro as already being apparent to the researchers as important (in their defense it could be the case that they were restricted/limited to the nature of multisite longitudinal studies).
    The main finding of influence of parent’s personality characteristics on their report was interesting, but more interesting was the finding regarding one parent’s psychological characteristics may relate/affect the other parent’s view of the child (maternal more often influencing paternal- which their explanation of why maternal may be more influential makes intuitive sense); I wonder however if that really can be deduced with relative certainty from maternal loadings being stronger than factor loadings/effects. I would’ve like more evidence to support the claim, such as father’s actually reporting that in some way they feel as though the mother’s feelings about the child affect their feelings about the child (this however may fall victim to the nature of self-report given that father would actually have to be cognizant that maternal depictions are affecting their paternal judgment or that he relies on mother to give information about child, as reporting that she spends more time with the child). However, even the authors point to the fact future studies should include.
    On another note, although there is some discussion of the structural equation modeling technique being able to pull out variance that is shared across informants, I am still unclear what authors would do had they chosen more than one informant report outside of the parents (i.e. if they had chosen teacher and family friend report) would they also conduct some sort of average, which informants report would be trust the most or seen as the most predictive? The person with the least amount of self-endorsed pathology (especially if the sample size is too small for the structural equation modeling). Which brings me to another concern I had was that the parent report was entirely self-report, while the authors do a small nod to this concern, I think this drastically weakens their whole experiment/argument, as what if the self-report measures were not entirely arcuate than can we really surmise true personality characteristics of the parents (and their subsequent effect on the child report)? Additionally, the authors do a small nod to the fact general parental agreement and disagreement/more family environmental factors weren’t assessed, however this also makes the validity of the study questionable.

    • tiara newson says:

      I definitely understand where you are coming from. The introduction was well put together and the study had a lot of potential. You can tell a lot of hard work was put into it but it just didn’t fulfill the expectations. The findings did not give us a lot of understanding about the subject. Mainly because their should have been another condition group, non depressed parents, as i mentioned in my post. They did also loose us in the mathematical analyses as well. It just did not reach it’s full potential.

    • Safa Shehab says:

      I agree with you, Gabriella, that as “strong” as this statistical model is portrayed to be in terms of finding latent variables that are supposed to explain relationships between measured variables, it still does not by any means allow for the authors to conclude a cause-effect relationship between one parent’s psychological characteristics and the other parent’s report of their child’s temperament. This should definitely be tested through study design and not through statistical modeling.

    • Katie Dana says:

      I love how you are acknowledging the complexity of the stats here- I had to do some googling to fully understand what was going on as well. I also agree with your comment on the self-report measures. I think that, unfortunately, measures like these are a necessary evil for a lot of social psych research because 1) we have a lot of control over the variables 2) it’s inexpensive and 3) it’s time efficient. I imagine the study would have taken a lot of time and been much more expensive to carry out of more qualitative measures were used. But I think you’re right- if the study included more quantitative measures, the findings would certainly be more meaningful.

  8. Melissa Chavez says:

    As stated in Clarke et al., (2017) parental dispute concerning children’s disposition is partially connected to the cognitive activity of the parents. That being said, the results in this study defend the interests that cognitive aspects impact parental approaches of their children.
    I found this study interesting because not only have I never read studies on temperament but never had the interest in doing so. Specifically, because my thought process at first of temperament was that it was a normal phase in developmental stages of a child. It was just something seen as expected and not a correlation to the “mood” interactions of parents with their children. In other words, I never saw children’s temperament as some sort a projection of methods in a parenting style. I always thought it was more of an overwhelming feeling to their environment. Thinking back to my developmental class, we always discussed how children’s emotions are more heighten because they’re still in a developmental stage where they do not really understand what they are feeling. And because of that their responses (behaviors) to things could be viewed as more dramatic than it should be, as you get older.
    However, I do understand now how this concept recognizes it. Which that it simply allows a discussion in that the way a parent feels internally affects how they perceive their child’s temperament. What are we exactly saying here now that we have these results? That a parent who inhibits certain psychological attributes affects how they perceive their child negatively? And because of this, children’s temperament is not being parented correctly? For example, a child begins to cry because they do not want to eat their vegetables. Are these findings suggesting that because the parent was upset prior to a personal problem are dealing with—if they project that feeling on how they handle their crying child; this will trigger a childs temperament? These questions that I have distract me with how I view this study and perhaps that is why I’m having difficulty in understanding the purpose of the findings due to the methods and measurements in “mood”.

    • Ashley Olivera says:

      I like how your take on the article related children’s temperament to a real-life situation. I agree in which I also considered throwing an occasional tantrum was a normal part of growing up. If it occurs in a public setting, everyone looks down upon the parent for bad parenting skills. However, considering this has happened to me personally with my 4 year old sister, I have difficulty believing it has something to do with bad parenting. Child temperament may be a way of children releasing all that built-in emotion because a proper, healthy outlet has yet to be found to release the feelings they haven’t quite understood yet.

  9. Susie McHugh says:

    While I had some major issues with the clarity and style with which this article was written, I found Clark et al.’s (2017) analysis of parent personality characteristics with their perceptions of their own children’s behavior to spark an interesting, and clinically relevant conversation.

    I love this topic, and I think the authors did a good job both of describing research that has been done on the accuracy of survey data, and linking it to an argument for the need for much more research on the nuances of this need. My favorite example cited was the apparent gender stereotype embedded within the distortion model, whereby parents’ own magnified attention to negative stimuli, caused by depression, led to an overrepresentation of problem behavior when describing their children. That is, Garsten et al. (2009) reported that mothers tended to over-report externalizing behaviors in their male children, while tending more to over-report internalizing symptoms in female children. At face value, this certainly seems plausible. I have also personally observed both through live interview, and through questionnaire data, that parent report may skew toward inaccuracy. I have seen this take the forms both of desirability biases, and tendencies to malinger. That is, parents will often exaggerate their children’s strengths and talents, describing such abilities as evidence of giftedness, or aggrandize relative weaknesses as catastrophes. I am impressed by the authors’ recognition of this problem in measurement of child behavior. Furthermore, the hypothesis that the internalizing symptoms of parent reporters themselves may lead to specific response biases is one that, if true, could lead researchers to answer pertinent questions related to clinical outcomes.

    For example, let us imagine a child referred to a clinic for therapy, based on a history of behavior problems. The clinician sends the mother home with a stack of questionnaires in which she surveys the mother’s perception of the child’s internalizing and externalizing symptoms. However, as the clinician gets to know the child over several sessions, and she analyzes the mother’s questionnaires, she notices some inconsistencies in what the mother reported with what the child reveals in sessions. So the clinician surveys the teacher to hopefully clear things up, and finds yet a fourth perspective on the child’s behavior (i.e., mother, clinician, child, teacher). I am thinking that the current study by Clark et al. (2017) could lead clinicians to begin by surveying the parent not only on the psychological profile of the child patient, but also of the parent her- or himself. I often find myself believing that psychological distress in children is often very heavily a product of the child’s home environment, in addition of course to the child’s biological predispositions. (I do not mean to say I think this is “always” the case – I emphasize the word “often.”) Starting the therapy process by surveying the parents for clues of familial psychopathology sounds like an important first step, and I appreciate the current study for bringing this into the research sphere. It also seems like I may need to catch up on my consumption of this type of research!

    Finally, as child behavior problems often interact heavily with parent well-being, whether child behavior problems are the main source of parent distress or not, it is likely an important first step to gauge the level of parent psychological need even when the primary patient is the child. It is often the case that treating a child’s symptoms would lead to little positive outcome in the child’s life, if the source of the child’s distress and challenging behavior was in fact due to parent psychopathology. In whole, I very much agree with the authors’ case, though I am utterly confused by their uses of statistics and analysis (likely my own naivety). I should probably read through one more time before class on Monday. 🙂

    • Aditya Kulkarni says:

      Hey Susie,

      I loved reading your comment and your insight into the child-parent dyad from your own real-world experience dealing with the population. The statistics were certainly complex and I found this sentence from the discussion to be perhaps the best summation of all the discussion on shared versus unique variance for ratings: “In essence, the consensus
      factor represents the agreement between informants about that
      higher-order dimension of temperament, and the unique perspective factors represent the within-informant perspective on
      that higher-order dimension” (Clark et al., 2017). The idiosyncratic relation between parent ratings of the child versus the informant’s seemingly objective perspective really made this model more empirically grounded, though makes me wonder whether baseline assessment of the informant’s personality would add to the model (probably just make it more complex). Above I saw many comments addressing the “so what” quality of the paper, and while I see the ultimate point of…well parents are biased humans (redundant) much like the rest of us, but I believe such a model shows not that it just happens, but allows us to parse out the components of the variance that belong to the consensus factor between parents versus independently. For future sake, I believe weighting the dominant parent with whom the child spends the most time would add to the validity of the model, versus the statistical manipulation of assuming everything is equal between parents (a rareity).

  10. Karen Abraham says:

    I was amazed by the novelty of this study and impressed with the statistical modeling to get at the research questions about the effects parents’ individual traits on the reliability of parental reports of their children’s traits. The implications of the study findings regarding observer bias in the report of characteristics and behavior of their children speaks to the extreme difficulties in objectively assessing behavior and personality in children. Conceptually, I found myself wondering if these effects extend to clinical raters. In my experience as a study rater and conversation about inter rater reliability, I’ve found it interesting how often disagreements between raters, especially in qualitative coding, can stem from the rater’s unique perspectives, experiences, and personality. The suggestion for future research in the area really piqued my interest.

    I also found myself thinking about the potential influence of children’s traits that might contribute ease of parenting vs. children’s traits that might contribute to difficulty in parenting on parental distress. I wondered about the significant findings around level of distress and anxiety of the mother significantly negatively contributing to consensus particularly around Effortful Control to lead me to wonder if parenting contribution differences (for example a mother who does more parenting of a less controlled child) might lead to maternal distress or anxiety and potentially lead to less consensus due to lack of paternal experience with the child. In this way, the directionality of the conclusions is of interest to me. The authors mention that the MPQ-BF not being given at the same time as temperament assessment as a downside of the study, however I see this as a potential mitigating factor of the concern regarding the child’s behavior having an effect on the state of the parent at the time of assessment.

    • Emnet Gammada says:

      Karen, I agree with your reflection regarding raters. I found myself wondering about the role of the shared environment that may play a role into parent’s ratings. It would have been interesting to see how this model may have played out with a rater that interacts with the child but does not share the same environment (e.g., their teacher).

    • Susie McHugh says:

      Karen, I agree with your point of clinical raters. Supposedly, objective, quantitatively-defined operational definitions of behavior are supposed to cancel out subjective interpretations in evaluators’ observations, and lead to higher reliability. However, this can be difficult to do, and is not fool-proof. I think this is a flaw of many studies, that dependent measures are not well-defined enough to lead to reliable measurements, and lead to my questioning significant findings. I agree that future research on what past experiences and biological predispositions a rater has collected over a lifetime (as was done in this study) would be helpful in solving this problem.

    • Caroline Nester says:

      Karen, I am intrigued by your brief comment on the directionality of temperament affecting the relationship. We know the parent must impact the child in many ways (genetics at the minimum – but likely so much more), but the child must certainly also have influence on the parent. A difficult child to raise must certainly shape parental mood and depression levels. This seems like an important research question, but I imagine difficult to parse and assess…

  11. Hande says:

    I found the Clark et. al, (2017) article intriguing. The whole idea of how parents’ personality traits and internalizing symptoms relate to how they see their children’s temperament is very interesting. We know that temperament is defined as an innate style of responding to the environment in behavioral and emotional ways. You can predict the future personality traits from the child’s current temperament.
    Initially, I believed using parent report method to assess the temperament of children is biased but reading this study changed my mind as it points out how more valid they are than any other method of assessment. Additionally, if we are looking into an age group as young as 3 to 5, parent reports for children’s temperament would be the most accurate.
    Another thing I liked about Clark et. al., was the participant pool. That they actually used a sample from an ongoing longitudinal study and the “third generation” children whose parents were the original children from the FTP was pretty amazing. Having said that they could’ve looked at different styles of families instead of only intact and single-mother households which could be an interesting part of a follow-up study.
    Additional idea that came to my mind was, since they took into account of parental depression and the number of maternal report data was three times more than paternal report, postpartum depression could have been a variable. We know that postpartum depression could last up to a year after giving birth and in some cases even longer if the treatment was not effective. I think this could also be interesting to look at.
    Also, I felt they did not talk enough about the results in terms of parents’ depressive symptoms.

    • Mahathi Kosuri says:

      Hande- your point about postpartum depression is so interesting! yes this completely could have been a factor. And as we know, people who go untreated with a depressive episode are much more likely to experience a second depressive episode. I agree that they did not give enough attention t parents’ depressive symptoms and/or history and type of depressive symptoms. The severity in this case my affect the perception of their child’s temperament. Also, depression during pregnancy can significantly affect the child’s temperament- this could have also been an interesting factor to look at.

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