Date of Award

Winter 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Donna Thomas


The process of diagnosing pediatric psychopathology is an important and sometimes complex endeavor. Diagnoses are useful for facilitating communication among providers, setting therapy goals, and intervention selection. However, beyond their utility, diagnoses potentially can influence client-therapist rapport, therapeutic alliance, and therapy outcomes in a negative manner, as well as leading to stigma and discrimination against the client (child). Best practice for pediatric psychological evaluations includes obtaining data regarding the child's behavior in multiple settings and from multiple respondents. This is most often accomplished through administration of standardized objective pediatric behavior assessment instruments. However, collecting data from multiple respondents in this manner frequently leads to inter-rater discrepancy, which if not interpreted properly may lead to misdiagnosis or the failure to select the best therapeutic approach (e.g., family systems therapy versus individual therapy). Child-specific, parent-specific, and family-specific variables have been studied to determine their contribution to inter-parental discrepancy on child behavior assessment scales. However, research findings are inconsistent, leaving researchers to continue questioning the underlying factors involved in inter-parental discrepancy on child behavior assessment scales. While studies also have considered parent variables, such as anxiety and depression, that may influence parent perceptions and contribute to a more pessimistic world view, to date adult attachment style has not been investigated as a possible underlying factor contributing to inter-parental discrepancy. Data in the current body of literature clearly make the connection between adult attachment style and individual perceptions of interpersonal interactions and attachment related events. Specifically, individuals with anxious attachment styles tend to hold a more pessimistic world view, while secure individuals tend to be more optimistic in general. Avoidant individuals tend to recall less information related to emotional and attachment related events; therefore minimizing reports of certain details.

This study examined the differences in scores on the CBCL/6-18 Internalizing and Externalizing behavior scales among cohabitating parent dyads who have different attachment styles (e.g., secure/anxious, secure/avoidant, anxious/avoidant) versus parent dyads with the same attachment styles (e.g., secure/secure, anxious/anxious, avoidant/avoidant). Participants of this study included cohabitating parents seeking psychological evaluation for a child ages 6-16, sampled from participating psychology clinics in the Northern Louisiana region. Participants were asked to complete a survey packet that included demographic questions, measures of adult attachment style, and the CBCL/6-18 rating scale for their child. Differences among groups were analyzed using independent samples t-tests. Preliminary analysis was conducted to assess distribution of attachment styles within the sample and socio-demographic correlates of attachment style in each parent.