Maniadaki, Katerina, Sonuga-Barke, Edmund. J.S. and Kakouros, Efthymios
Parents' causal attributions about attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder: the effect of child and parent sex
Child: Care, Health & Development, 31, (3), . (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2005.00512.x).
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Background Boys with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) demonstrate disruptive behaviour at significantly higher rates compared to girls. Disruptive behaviour often develops as a result of negative interaction patterns within the caregiving relationship. Given the importance of parental cognitions as mediators of parental behaviour, the consideration of parent and child sex in the investigation of causal attributions regarding AD/HD may, at least partially, explain sex differences in the prevalence of disruptive behaviour among children with AD/HD.
Aim To examine the effect of parent and child sex on parental causal attributions and reactions about AD/HD and to investigate the interrelationships between these variables.
Sample Three hundred and seventeen mothers and 317 fathers of boys and girls aged 4–6 years and enrolled in kindergartens in Athens.
Method A Greek version of the Parental Account of the Causes of Childhood Problems Questionnaire was used, which followed a vignette about a hypothetical child displaying symptoms of AD/HD. Half of the participants received a male and another half received a female version of the vignette.
Results The child's sex greatly influenced parents' causal attributions about AD/HD. Higher ratings of intentionality were conferred to boys with AD/HD than girls and these attributions were related to stricter responses towards boys. In contrast, parents who considered biological dysfunction as underlying AD/HD, they mostly did so in the case of girls. Minimal effect of parent sex on causal attributions was found.
Conclusions Because causal attributions of intentionality relate to the response of more strictness and such attributions are more prevalent for boys than girls, then these perceptions about the aetiology of AD/HD in boys may be at the basis of negative interaction patterns. The increase of such interaction patterns may place boys at a more vulnerable position towards the development of secondary behaviour problems.
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