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Title: The impact of inflated responsibility and maternal reassurance on child behaviour
Author: Badham, Rachel
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2012
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Background: Cognitive models of OCD propose that cognitions such as ‘inflated responsibility’ have a causal role in the persistence of OCD symptoms. Research is mounting to support the applicability of these models to children, although the models do not take into account family context. Parents are often involved in accommodating their child’s OCD through the provision of reassurance. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between maternal inflated responsibility and maternal reassurance and secondly, the relationship between maternal reassurance and child OCD-behaviours. Method: Sixty children and their mothers were recruited from schools and the children completed a sweet sorting task in which their responsibility was inflated. Maternal responsibility was manipulated across three conditions; ‘high inflation’, ‘low inflation’ and ‘control’ (where mothers were not present during the sorting task). Child and maternal behaviours were examined from video-recordings of the task. It was hypothesised that mothers whose responsibility was inflated would offer more reassurance to their children and furthermore, their children would seek more reassurance and engage in more OCD-type behaviours. Results: The findings did not support the hypotheses as the manipulation did not have a significant effect on maternal reassurance giving. Contrary to the hypothesis, there was a trend for mothers in the ‘low’ group to offer more reassurance to their child than mothers in the ‘high’ group. No differences were found between groups for child behaviours. Children in the control group took significantly longer to complete the task than the others. Conclusions: The study was not able to provide support for a causal role of maternal reassurance in relation to their child’s behaviour. Limitations of the manipulation that may account for these findings are identified and suggestions are made for methodological improvements. Successfully demonstrating causal mechanisms between parental behaviours and child OCD-behaviours would have significant implications for the prevention and treatment of childhood OCD.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available