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Examining Malaysian mothers' causal attributions of maladaptive externalizing and internalizing behaviors in young children

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Olson, Sheryl 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:secjats:titleObjective</jats:title>jats:pThis study provides insight into how cultural beliefs influence parents' causal attributions of maladaptive externalizing and internalizing behaviors in young children.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleBackground</jats:title>jats:pUnderstanding how parents from different cultures explain difficult behavior in young children may inform culturally sensitive approaches for early intervention and prevention. To date, work on Malaysian parents' causal attributions of maladaptive behaviors in young children has received little empirical attention.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleMethod</jats:title>jats:pWe employed a semistructured interview method to assess Malaysian mothers' (jats:italicN</jats:italic> = 16) open‐ended explanations for maladaptive externalizing and internalizing behavior in their young children, as depicted in hypothetical scenarios. Mothers' responses were coded according to a coding system of parental attributions.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleResults</jats:title>jats:pWe identified cultural specificity in Malaysian parents' attributions of children's behaviors, with mothers endorsing reasons for children's maladaptive externalizing and internalizing behaviors that were not previously captured by the existing coding system. Mothers' attributions were informed by religious and spiritual beliefs.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleConclusions</jats:title>jats:pParents' causal attributions for children's maladaptive behaviors are culturally specific and are best captured by open‐ended approaches.</jats:p></jats:sec>jats:secjats:titleImplications</jats:title>jats:pCultural frames of reference shape parental beliefs, which are crucial to the effective formulation of early intervention and prevention approaches. Caution should be taken in general against universally operationalizing parents' attributions of children's behaviors.</jats:p></jats:sec>


Publication status: Published


5205 Social and Personality Psychology, 52 Psychology, Prevention, Clinical Research, Behavioral and Social Science, Minority Health, Pediatric

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Family Relations

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