The relationship between behavioral events and interpersonal perceptions in the families of problem behavior children

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McCollom, Loren Wilbern
White, Michael J.
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Thesis (Ph. D.)
Department of Counseling Psychology and Guidance Services
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The temporal sequence of behavioral and interpersonal perceptual changes in families of problem behavior children was considered. Previous research demonstrated that both child behavior and parents' perceptions of their problem behavior children improved during parent training. A behavioral systems model employing single-case experimental design was used to test the following hypotheses: (1) change in parenting behavior would precede change in child behavior; (2) change in child behavior would precede change in parent perception of the child; and (3) change in parenting behavior would precede change in child perception of the parent.Five two-parent families, recruited through newspaper advertisement, participated in a behavior management training course. Each had a 5-11 year old problem behavior child, as qualified by the Revised Behavior Problem Checklist.Dependent variables consisted of (1) weekly in-home, observer collected parent-child behavior interaction data using a simplified version of the Family Interaction Coding System, (2) weekly questionnaires assessing parent-child interpersonal perceptions and weekly family "crises", and (3) a series of pre-post measures (Parent Attitude Test, Becker Adjective Checklist, and Child Report of Parent Behavior Inventory) to identify change at the .05 level.All subjects commenced baseline procedures simultaneously, but two families continued baseline procedures an additional four weeks before training. Graphic depiction of weekly individual parent and child behavioral and perceptual data was employed to examine the hypothesized changes.The first two hypotheses generally were supported by the results. The third hypothesis was not supported. The findings suggested that during the initial weeks of parent training, parent application of behavior change strategies resulted in improved child behavior and that by the middle stage of parent training, the parents' perceptions of their children began to improve. In addition, there was a reduction in the number of parent-child interactions interpreted as having a calming effect. This served to obscure other change such as the near elimination of aversive consequences.