Child Sex, Externalizing Behavior, and Attachment as Predictors of Family Negativity During a Shared Book Reading Task

Moak, Elizabeth

The primary aim of this study was to evaluate whether child male sex, child externalizing behavior, and child attachment behavior, assessed at age two years, were significant predictors of family negativity observed during a shared book reading task in a low-income, urban sample of 85 mother-secondary caregiver-toddler triads. To evaluate potential covariates, associations of the study variables with demographic factors (i.e., parental marital status, education, family income, and residential status of the secondary caregiver) were also evaluated. It was hypothesized that child male sex and externalizing behavior would each be significant predictors of family negativity during the shared book reading task. It was also hypothesized that child attachment behavior would be negatively associated with family negativity, even after variance attributed to male sex and child externalizing behavior was accounted for. Results of hierarchical regressions confirmed our hypotheses. While significant, the three predictors evaluated in the study accounted for only a small amount of the variance in family negativity. Thus other unmeasured variables are likely playing a role. This possibility will be addressed in future research in the TEDY project.