Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Campus Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School


Committee Member

Jamie Lawler, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Eamonn Arble, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chong Man Chow, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alissa C. Huth-Bocks, Ph.D.


Parental reflective functioning (RF) and mind-mindedness are two types of parental mentalization that have been shown to predict child outcomes such as attachment security and emotion regulation. However, much remains to be known about the similarities and differences between parental RF and mind-mindedness. These three studies sought to better understand each construct and the ways in which they are assessed. Each study utilized a sample of women from a larger study that began during pregnancy and ended at 3 years postpartum. The first study examined the stability of parenting reflectivity across the birth of a child and identify parental characteristics, such as social support, education, and exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV), that differ based on mothers’ parenting reflectivity over time. A moderate correlation was found between pre- and postanal [sic] reflectivity, suggesting the construct appears stable over time. Further, three groups emerged based on stability of reflectivity over time, and these groups varied based on maternal education and age. However, no differences were found based on IPV or social support. The second study examined the construct validity of a self-report measure of parental reflective functioning by comparing scores on it with scores from a coded interview. Correlations were found between scales on the self-report measure and scores on the interview, supporting the construct validity of the self-report measure. Further, interview-based parental RF and self-reported pre-mentalizing were relatively equal predictors of attachment security. However, only self-reported parental RF was correlated with parenting stress and maternal psychopathology. Finally, the third study directly compared parenting reflectivity and mind-mindedness to understand their unique ability to predict child outcomes such as attachment and social-emotional development. Results showed parenting reflectivity and mind-mindedness were correlated with attachment security, but only prenatal parenting reflectivity served as a significant predictor. Parenting reflectivity at both time points was correlated with social-emotional development, while mind-mindedness was not. Prenatal reflectivity was also a trend-level predictor of social-emotional competence. The results of these studies are expected to increase understanding of the differences between parenting reflectivity and mind-mindedness and better inform decisions regarding the assessment of these constructs in future research.