Mothers' beliefs about the causes of infant growth deficiency: Is there attributional bias?

Lynne A. Sturm, Dennis Drotar, Kathleen Laing, Gregory D. Zimet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations


Tested for defensive attributional bias in mothers' causal explanations for infant (2-12.5 months) growth deficiency. Mothers of healthy babies (controls; n = 82), growth deficient babies without medical problems (n = 27) and growth-deficient babies with mild medical problems (n = 22) rated their levels of agreement with 23 causes of growth problems which were designed to vary in the degree of personal threat to parenting self-esteem. Ratings were completed for the mother's (Own) baby and for a nonspecific (Other) baby. Findings partially support a theory of defensive attributional bias, with higher agreement when causes referred to Other (vs. Own) baby, and lower agreement with family-related than with medical/nutritional causes. Factors that may have influenced material experience of threat and implications of the findings for clinical practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-344
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 1997



  • Growth
  • Health beliefs
  • Infants
  • Parents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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