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Psychol Bull. 1994 Jul;116(1):55-74.

Parental caregiving and child externalizing behavior in nonclinical samples: a meta-analysis.

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  • 1Department of Child Study, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts 02155.


A meta-analysis of 47 studies was used to shed light on inconsistencies in the concurrent association between parental caregiving and child externalizing behavior. Parent-child associations were strongest when the measure of caregiving relied on observations or interviews, as opposed to questionnaires, and when the measure tapped combinations of parent behaviors (patterns), as opposed to single behaviors. Stronger parent-child associations were also found for older than for younger children, and for mothers than for fathers. Finally, externalizing was more strongly linked to parental caregiving for boys than for girls, especially among preadolescents and their mothers. The meta-analysis helps account for inconsistencies in findings across previous studies and supports theories emphasizing reciprocity of parent and child behavior.

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