Date Approved

8-16-2011

Date Posted

12-8-2011

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Alissa Huth-Bocks, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Heather Janisse, PhD

Committee Member

Tom Schmitt, PhD

Committee Member

Sylvia Norris-Jones, PhD

Abstract

The primary objective of this study was to broaden psychological and scientific understanding of the lasting effects of intimate partner violence (IPV) on maternal parenting behaviors in families with infants. This study used longitudinal data to examine these associations. Much is to be gained from exploring the association between IPV and maternal parenting behaviors in families with infants because IPV is known to negatively impact a wide range of parenting capacities, as well as the social-emotional adjustment of young children. This study also examined an accumulation of social-contextual risk factors as a moderator between the chronicity and severity of IPV experiences and observed maternal parenting behaviors with infants. Very few studies have examined this particular model, and almost no research has examined these associations in homes with infants as compared to homes with older children. This study was also unique in that it used a variety of methodologies to assess the previously mentioned variables. Maternal report was used to assess IPV over four time periods, an observed mother-infant interaction task was used to measure maternal parenting behaviors when infants were 1 year old, and maternal self-report was used to assess numerous social-contextual risk factors over the transition to parenthood. Findings did not support a direct association between IPV experiences and maternal parenting behaviors. Instead, results indicated a direct effect between cumulative risk and maternal positive and negative parenting behaviors, providing empirical support for the cumulative risk model. Surprisingly, cumulative risk did not moderate the association between IPV experiences and maternal parenting behaviors. Implications for these findings and directions for future research are discussed.

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