Outcome expectations and inconsistent discipline: the effects of parent and child perceptions and parental depression
This study examined the reciprocal relation between inconsistent discipline and child outcome expectations (beliefs about the effectiveness of aggression), as well factors that may also contribute to inconsistent discipline (parent depression and the parent's perception of the child's outcome expectations) or to aggressive outcome expectations (child perception of the parent's outcome expectations). Measures were created to examine newly developed constructs (e.g., parent and child perception of the other's outcome expectations) and results from a pilot study are reported. 132 fourth grade children rated at-risk for aggression and their caregivers completed self-report questionnaires. Mediation analyses were conducted separately by gender and outcome expectations subtype (reducing aversive treatment and attaining tangible rewards). High levels of caregiver outcome expectations related to tangible rewards were significantly positively associated with boys' aggressive tangible rewards outcome expectations. This relation was mediated by boys' perceptions of their caregivers' tangible rewards outcome expectations. Boys who see their parents frequently engage in aggression to attain tangible rewards likely begin to perceive that their parent thinks this is an acceptable behavior, and through identification with their parent, begin to develop their own aggressive outcome expectations. Parent outcome expectations related to reducing aversive treatment may be more difficult to perceive than tangible rewards outcome expectations; therefore, they may be developed during peer interactions. Gender differences are also discussed; girls were not able to perceive caregiver outcome expectations. It may be that overtly aggressive girls have caregivers who are disengaged, making it more difficult for daughters to perceive their outcome expectations. Relations between child outcome expectations and aggression as well as outcome expectations measure development are also discussed. Implications for intervention include: a) clinicians should target child perceptions of outcome expectations for aggression and b) clinicians should also target caregiver outcome expectations when possible, given their ability to impact children's outcome expectations and behavior. Finally, the importance of different models of aggressive behavior for boys and girls is reinforced by current findings.