Trentacosta & Shaw (2007) wished to investigate the relationship between “maternal psychological resources, rejecting parenting, and early adolescent antisocial behavior” (p. 247). In order to accomplish the completion of such a study, 231 mothers of a low income socioeconomic status who had sons between 18 months and 12 years old were studied (Trentacosta & Shaw, 2007). The resulting study determined that there was a direct correlation between a maternal aggressive personality and antisocial behaviors in the child and the rejection of parenting was likewise determined to have an effect on antisocial behaviors in the child (Trentacosta & Shaw, 2007).
After reviewing the study conducted by Trentacosta & Shaw (2007), my first thought was that the correlation should have been obvious between the two, and that the results of the study were unsurprising. In spite of this, I do see the need for the researchers to have conducted the study in the first place, as it allowed for a scientifically proven correlation as opposed to one that would be defined from common sense. The literature presented by Trentacosta & Shaw (2007) was thorough, looking at personality, psychopathology, and overall levels of maturity, necessary information in order to back up the hypothesis set forth, and ultimately proven by the completed study. In spite of this, the psychological resources that the researchers used in order to define the characteristics of the mother may be construed as highly subjective, as only one of the three is a quantifiable variable.
The three psychological resources used to determine correlation were “maternal age at first birth, aggressive personality, and empathy” (Trentacosta & Shaw, 2007, p. 247). While maternal age at first birth is a highly valuable tool, in light of what is being studied, it is the only one of the three resources that is truly quantifiable. Though the qualitative data associated with the levels of empathy held by a person and the aggressiveness of the individual’s personality are subjective variables that are not easily qualified, resulting in a subjectivity that remains present even when those qualitative values are translated into quantifiable statistics.
The secondary concern of the study, whether or not the practice of rejecting parenting is “associated with acrimony in later parent-child relationships,” seems like it should have been split off into a different study, as this works to introduce too many different variables into the study itself, particularly in light of the fact that society has changed drastically, children are more entitled now than they have been in decades past, and the question of whether or not acrimony is present in a later parent child relationship is as a result of many different factors, including but not limited to that of rejecting parenting, resulting in a need for a separate study, as opposed to attempting to incorporate it into this initial study (Trentacosta & Shaw, 2007, p. 247).
Based on the research presented by Trentacosta & Shaw (2007), it is possible to see that there is a direct, scientifically confirmed correlation between rejecting parenting and the later anti-social behaviors in the child, however, no new understanding was gained as a result of the study due to the fact that this is a common sense conclusion that may be reached by any student of psychology. Based on the research completed, however, there are many different new studies that may be postulated and completed as a result of the side tangents of this study. As such, the new understanding that this study brings comes not from the study itself, but instead is as a result of an interest in furthering the overall body of research in this particular area of investigation.
- Trentacosta, C., & Shaw, D. (2007). Maternal Predictors of Rejecting Parenting and Early Adolescent Antisocial Behavior. Journal Of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36(2), 247-259. doi:10.1007/s10802-007-9174-8