Effects of parents’ adversity exposure on general and child-specific hostile attribution bias

Rebecca L. Griffith, Bridget Cho, Stephanie Gusler, Austen McGuire, Yo Jackson

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1 Scopus citations


Hostile attribution bias (HAB), or the tendency to interpret others’ intent as hostile, has been linked to a variety of maladaptive outcomes including aggression and harsh parenting practices. The current cross-sectional study examined the influence of parents’ childhood and adulthood adversity exposure (i.e., frequency and polyvictimization) in the development of HAB. Parents of 324 preschool-age children answered questions about hypothetical social scenarios to examine their general hostile attributions of others, hostile attributions specific to their children, and their endorsement of aggressive responses as a behavioral solution to the scenario. Results from structural equation modeling indicated parents’ frequency of adversity and polyvictimization in adulthood were each positively associated with both general and child-specific HAB. However, parents’ childhood adversity polyvictimization was negatively associated with child-specific HAB. Further, neither childhood nor adulthood adversity exposure were significantly associated with aggressive responding. The results highlight the importance of adulthood adversity exposure in understanding the relation between adversity and HAB. Future directions and implications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalJournal of Family Trauma, Child Custody and Child Development
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Hostile attribution bias
  • adversity
  • parenting


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