Household Chaos Moderates the Link between Maternal Attribution Bias and Parenting

Zhe Wang, Kirby Deater-Deckard, Martha Ann Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective. Parents who attribute child misbehavior to children's intentions and dismiss situational factors tend to show more hostility and less warmth in their parenting behavior, and are at greater risk for maltreatment. We extended this literature by investigating the role of household chaos as a moderator of the link between maternal attribution biases and parenting behaviors. Design. The current sample included 160 mothers of 3- to 7-year-old children. Mothers provided reports on their attribution biases and household chaos levels. Maternal negativity and positivity were measured using self-reports and observers' ratings. Results. The links between attribution bias and parenting behavior were stronger in more chaotic environments, with the moderating effect of chaos being particularly strong for internal attribution bias. Conclusions. The findings point to the importance of social cognitive biases in the etiology of maternal behavior in family contexts that lack order and predictability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-252
Number of pages20
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013

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