Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 163–171 | Cite as

Cognitive-Affective Pathways to Child Depressive and Anxious Symptoms: Role of Children’s Discipline Attributions

  • Christina M. RodriguezEmail author
  • Doris F. Pu
  • Ashley R. Foiles
Original Article


Children’s maladaptive cognitive attributions may elicit affective reactions that contribute to depressive and anxious symptoms. This study investigated cognitive-affective pathways in depressive and anxious symptoms in a sample of 110 prepubertal children, evaluating children’s specific appraisals of experiences of parental discipline as well as general attributional style, along with their hopelessness, self-esteem, and shame. Pathways toward depressive and anxious symptoms were tested simultaneously to identify potential unique etiological mechanisms. Results suggested that lower self-esteem strongly contributed to depressive and anxious symptoms, whereas shame related to depression only and hopelessness related to depression only marginally. Additionally, general negative attributional style and low sense of control over discipline related to all three affective elements. Lastly, low sense of discipline control directly predicted depressive symptoms, whereas beliefs that discipline was undeserved directly predicted anxious symptoms. Future work should continue to examine the role of children’s discipline-specific attributions, which appear important in internalizing symptoms.


Internalizing symptoms Attributional style Hopelessness Self-esteem Shame 



The authors acknowledge the data collection assistance of Melissa Bradford, Elizabeth Goble, Nancy Harmon, and Stefanie Minen.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina M. Rodriguez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Doris F. Pu
    • 1
  • Ashley R. Foiles
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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