Master of Arts (MA)
Lifetime prevalence rates of anxiety disorders in youth are substantial and range from 6-15%. Valid evidence-based assessments are therefore of critical importance in screening pediatric clients. Assessment of childhood disorders requires multi-informant data (e.g., parents, teachers, child); however, this presents a host of obstacles not found in adult assessment. No single source represents the gold standard and it is therefore up to the judgment of the clinician to integrate often conflicting information. Parents’ reports of their children's symptomology may be marred by their own anxious or depressive symptoms as well as conflict due to differing motivations, values, and goals. This conflict may be exacerbated by parental attempts to ingratiate themselves to the interviewer through a process known as positive impression management. Positive impression management by parents may yield a conflicting report of symptomology and serve to distort the diagnostic picture. In order to investigate these problems, 150 parent-child dyads (children are between the ages of 5-16) from an existing database were analyzed. Parents whose responses indicated defensiveness on a measure of parental stress were compared to both stressed parents and controls in order to determine differences in their ratings of their child’s anxious symptomology. In summary, there was an overall effect of stress on ratings (M=37.46), F (2,148) =11.520, p<.001. Planned contrasts revealed that changes in stress were associated with parental anxiety ratings compared to controls, t(149) =3.71, p<.01 (1-tailed), and that defensive responding dyads exhibited significantly lower ratings compared to stressed dyads t(149) =2.91, p<.01. This research should inform future evidence based assessments and serve to identify potential problematic areas in certain populations.
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Kirkpatrick, Megan Elizabeth, "Everything is Alright: Parental Positive Impression Management in Assessment of Anxious Youth" (2014). LSU Master's Theses. 3968.