Parents' Beliefs about Influence over Cognitive and Social Development

Rosemary A. Knight*, Jacqueline J. Goodnow

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    The aim of this study was to investigate whether or not parents' beliefs about influence vary according to domain of development, and as a function of parental experience. Sixty married couples were interviewed about their beliefs, with reference to their eldest child (aged 4, 7, or 10 years). Parents estimated the degree of influence they as parents, and teachers, had over 15 attributes covering social and cognitive behaviours. These data were analysed for variations according to parent gender, child gender and age of eldest child. The variable of domain (cognitive vs. social development) was significant for beliefs about influence, interacting with parent gender. No significant effects were found for child gender or age of eldest child. The lack of child effects suggests only limited support for the argument that differential experience, represented by these variables, is a critical base for parents' beliefs. One alternative explanation is that parents' beliefs also operate on a functional basis. Parents may need to believe that they have influence (and that their influence is important) in order to continue the task of effective parenting, especially in the social domain for which they are most held responsible.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)517-527
    Number of pages11
    JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1988


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