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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1975;3(4):353-74.

Normal versus deviant children. A multimethod comparison.


The present study investigated differences between referred and nonreferred children and their families on the basis of home and clinic observations and parent questionnaires. Subjects were 28 families with children between 4 and 8 years of age who had been referred to a clinic for acting-out behavior and 28 nonreferred controls matched on several variables. Home observation results indicated that referred children showed significantly more deviant behavior and less prosocial behavior than nonreferred children and that their parents emitted more negative and commanding behavior in contrast to the control group. Systematic observation in the clinic revealed significant differences only in parent negativeness and number of commands. Finally, all five factors of the parent attitude questionnaire yielded large and significant differences between groups. There was considerable overlap between groups on all behavior variables but less overlap on the parent attitude measure. Results from a stepwise discriminant analysis classified 90% of referred children and 90% of nonreferred children correctly on the basis of the parent attitude variable alone. Taken together, these results suggest that child behavior is not always the critical variable in referral and stress the importance of multiple assessment procedures for child-family problems when children are referred for treatment.

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