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Awarded New Investigator/Doctoral Dissertation Grant

When Baby Cries: The Role of Hostility-Related Schema in Physical Abuse Risk

FOA Number: CE05-021 - Grants for New Investigator Training Awards
Project Period: 8/31/05-8/30/06
Application/Grant Number: 1-R49-CE000654-01
Principal Investigator: Julie Crouch, BA, MA, PhD
Northern Illinois University
301 Lowden Hall
Dekalb, IL 60115


Automatic accessibility of hostility-related schema, (i.e., mechanisms that influence how information is processed), which occurs without intention or awareness, may increase the risk of child physical abuse (CPA). If so, strategies for altering information processing activities—which is not part of most intervention strategies—may be needed to augment the effectiveness of programs designed to prevent CPA. This research will inform prevention efforts by increasing understanding of those mechanisms associated with CPA risk.

Researchers will examine whether hostility-related schema are automatically accessible to parents at high risk for CPA. The proposed study is the first to use a lexical decision-making task to examine accessibility of hostility-related schema in high-risk for CPA parents. Differences between high- and low-risk parents in their latencies to respond to hostility-related words will be assessed using a 2 (CPA risk; high, low) x 3 (context; quiet, smiling, crying child) analysis of variance with repeated measures on the second factor. This study promotes Healthy People 2010 goals to reduce child maltreatment and related fatalities and CDC’s interest in advancing research for effective child abuse prevention. This project will also suggest potential targets for CPA prevention practices.