Date of Award

8-1-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

DiLalla, Lisabeth

Abstract

This study explored parent-child mutuality (PCM) in a number of different ways. The stability of PCM, as well as its relation to externalizing problems in children, was examined. In addition, the influences of genes, parent personality, and child temperament on PCM were explored. It was expected that the components of parent-child mutuality, mutual cooperation and positivity, would be stable across ages three to five. In addition, it was predicted that parent personality and child temperament would be associated with PCM. It was predicted that there would be a negative association between PCM and parent-reported externalizing problems in children. Lastly, it was predicted that there would be a genetic influence on PCM such that monozygotic twins would be more similar in PCM than dizygotic twins. Data from 80 families of twins who participated in the Southern Illinois Twins and Siblings Study (SITSS) were utilized for the current study. Parents completed questionnaires assessing their personality and their twins’ temperament, and one parent and both twins participated in a 10-minute parent-child interaction task to assess PCM. Overall, results did not support any of the hypotheses. However, post-hoc analyses suggest that perhaps utilizing a dimensional rather than categorical conceptualization of temperament may be a more effective way of exploring the relationship between temperament and PCM. Strengths and limitations of the current study are explored, as well as suggestions for future research in this area.

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