Parental behaviors as a function of perception
This study examined parents’ mind perception of infants and young children and associations between mind perception and self-reported caregiving behaviors. The aims of this study were to (1) extend mind perception to young children of varying ages, (2) examine the correlates of mind perception (e.g., depression), (3) assess the association between mind perception of young children and caregiving behaviors, and (4) analyze mind perception as a mediator on the effects of depression on caregiving. Parents rated images of individuals of varying ages on 20 dimensions of agency and experience. All parents completed measures of depression and parenting behavior to assess dimensional depression symptoms and self-reported caregiving respectively. Results suggested that perceptions of capabilities for both agency and experience increase as age of image increases. Depression was not significantly associated with ratings of mind perception in young children, and despite previous theories punitive caregiving was also not associated with agency. Mind perception also did not serve as a mediator for the effects of depression on punitive parenting. Future analyses should focus on the connection between mind perception and other parentings behaviors such as inconsistent parenting or positive parenting. Results are discussed within the existing frameworks of mind perception, depression, and caregiving behaviors.
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