Maternal personality and distress as predictors of child neglect

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27 Scopus citations


Previous studies suggest that maternal personality problems predict child neglect. However, these studies have not distinguished between the common and unique contributions of various maternal personality dimensions, nor have they compared the contribution of maternal personality with maternal emotional distress. The current study addresses these issues using data collected by James Gaudin and distributed by the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect at Cornell University. Information was extracted on 94 neglectful and 101 comparison mothers. Logistic regression analyses revealed that a composite score reflecting maternal empathic capacity inversely predicted child neglect, whereas maternal depressive symptoms and loneliness did not. Results are discussed in terms of the importance of distinguishing between common and unique contributions of maternal personality dimensions to clinical and social outcomes and in terms of the relative contribution of maternal personality and emotional distress to child neglect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-545
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Child neglect
  • Logistic regression
  • Maternal distress
  • Maternal personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology (all)


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