Maltreated children's representations of mother and an additional caregiver: A longitudinal study

Shany Manashko, Avi Besser, Beatriz Priel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In the current longitudinal investigation, we explored the continuity of and changes in the mental representations of the mother and an additional caregiver among forty-five 9- to 11-year-old children who had been severely maltreated and subsequently placed in long-term residential care as well as the relationships between the content and structure of these representations and teacher's assessments of the child's externalizing and internalizing symptoms. At Time 1, a nonmaltreated comparison group was assessed concomitantly. Compared to nonmaltreated children, maltreated children scored higher for externalizing and internalizing symptoms, and their maternal representations were found to be significantly less benevolent and integrated and more punitive. In addition, among the maltreated children, the additional caregiver representations were found to be more benevolent and integrated, and less punitive, than the maternal representations. After 30 months, the maltreated children's levels of externalizing and internalizing symptoms diminished, their maternal representations become more benevolent and less punitive, and the additional caregiver representations became less benevolent. Moreover, the Benevolence of the additional caregiver representation was found to predict these children's changes in externalizing symptoms beyond the effects of their symptomatology and its associations with the Benevolence of these representations at Time 1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)561-599
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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