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Family adjustment, parental attitudes, and social desirability

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This study examines the role of social desirability response set on the report of marital adjustment, child adjustment, and parenting attitudes. Results from 69 married couples closely replicate previous self-report findings suggesting that the more positive the report of marital adjustment, the fewer the number of child problem behaviors endorsed by parents (r=− .19(69), p < .05). When social desirability is controlled, however, the marital-child adjustment relationship is nonsignificant. Previous reports of a global relationship between marital and child adjustment may have been inflated by individual differences in willingness to endorse problems on self-report measures. Parenting attitudes are not associated with social desirability or marital adjustment. Warmth, but not authoritarianism, is negatively correlated with child behavior problems in the home (r=− .25(69), p < .01). The authors propose that family interaction research use a multimethod strategy to focus on circumscribed variables that influence marital and parenting behavior.

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Author information

Correspondence to Elizabeth A. Robinson.

Additional information

The authors wish to thank R. L. Weiss for his permission to use the Spouse Observation Checklist, Nancy Bologna for her assistance in the early phases of this study, and Catherine Iiams for her help in preparing the manuscript. The research was supported by a grant from the Child Development Research Fund, University of Washington, and the paper was presented, in part, at the meeting of the American Psychological Association, Los Angeles, 1981.

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Robinson, E.A., Anderson, L.L. Family adjustment, parental attitudes, and social desirability. J Abnorm Child Psychol 11, 247–256 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00912089

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  • Individual Difference
  • Behavior Problem
  • Social Desirability
  • Child Behavior
  • Parenting Behavior