Measuring lay theories of parenting and child development


Parenting practices are known to play an important role in shaping children’s outcomes. For example, children whose parents engage them in high-quality conversations and who are given opportunities for free play are at an advantage for learning and later academic outcomes. However, communicating the results of relevant scientific findings to parents remains a challenge. One possible moderator of uptake of parenting information is the implicit theories parents hold with regard to child development and parenting. As a first step in investigating this possibility, the present work establishes a new measure of parenting attitudes including three subscales corresponding to attitudes about rules and respect, affection and attachment, and early learning. We then examine whether subscale scores predict uptake of new information about children’s learning. Scores on the Early Learning subscale, but not the Rules and Respect subscale, predicted generalization from the article, providing initial evidence of the validity of this measure.

Back to Table of Contents