Maternal characteristics, parenting, and child mastery motivation: A path model

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Committee Member

Connie E. Morrow, Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Donald K. Routh, Committee Member


The present study evaluated a path model that delineated maternal psychopathology and maternal social support as predictors of child mastery motivation, directly and indirectly via parenting behaviors. The model was tested in a population of 105 inner city African American preschool children and their biological mothers. Maternal psychopathology was measured using the General Symptomatic Index of the Symptom Checklist-90, and maternal social support was measured using the Addiction Severity Index - Social Support composite. Parenting behaviors were measured by the Conflict Tactics Scales Child Form. Child mastery behaviors were coded from videotaped observations of the mother and child in a standardized situation in which the child carried out two tasks. Structural equation modeling was employed to conduct path analysis on the hypothesized model. Results indicated the maternal psychopathology and maternal social support were not related to child mastery motivation directly or indirectly related via parenting behaviors. Only the hypothesized path from parenting behaviors to child mastery motivation was significant, indicating adverse parenting practices predicted decreased child mastery motivation. Due to the non-significant findings, exploratory follow-up analyses were employed to better understand whether measurement error or whether the model was not applicable to the sample. Correlations between the measures in the hypothesized model and other similar measures indicated the adequacy of the measures. Substitution of the other related measures into the model was considered. Findings were discussed with respect to issues related to measurement, the sample, or the use of mastery motivation as the outcome variable. Clinical implications regarding family-focused early intervention was also discussed.


Psychology, Social; Psychology, Developmental; Psychology, Clinical; Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

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