The study was called "Parental Hostility: Impact on the Family". Wesley D. Alan, Java Kashan i, and John Reid conducted this study. This study is the first effort to systematically examine the effects that parental hostility has on a child and the family. The experimenters anticipated that parental hostility would be connected with extended levels of child psychopathology.
One hundred children, ages 7 to 12, from an inpatient unit in a university affiliated community mental health center served as the subjects. Additionally one parent, usually the mother, took part in the study. A number of children were excluded from the study because they either had full IQ's or they met the criteria for a psychotic disorder, leaving a sample of 87. This study was done mostly by questionnaires, some being Symptom Checklist 90-Revised (SCL-90-R), Dimensions of Temperament Survey (DOTS), Personality Inventory for Children (PIC), The Scale for Suicide Ideation (SSI), The Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale (RCM AS), and the Children's Depression Rating Scale (CDRS). A research assistant administered the questionnaires to each child after admission. Following a structured interview with each child the assistant completed the CDRS.
A member of the nursing staff completed the SSI after conducting a semi structured interview with each child and after observing his / her on unit behavior. Additionally, the one parent completed questionnaires like the SCL-90, PIC, and the DOTS. After this was done with every child two groups were formed by doing a split based on the SCL-90 hostility scores, and they were compared. The major findings in this study are that the presence of parental hostility is associated with the concurrent presence of familial problems. Meaning parents who are hostile likely head families that lack cohesion and tend to be chaotic and un supportive. These families may also be characterized by argument and frequent problems with alcohol.
Parental hostility was also closely related to the parental temperament traits of adaptability and mood. Hostile parents may not be able to adjust themselves to new or changing circumstances. Thus, if a child is different or responds in ways that the parent does not approve of, the parent may react in a hostile manner. The experimenters anticipated that high parental hostility would be associated with concomitant elevated levels of child psychopathology. However what they found indicated that parental hostility in one parent alone does not seem to induce childhood depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. The experimenters presume, many children develop protective factors such as social factors out side the home that help them ward off psychopathology despite the presence in the home of a parent who is hostile.
There were some limitations during this study. One was that only parent participated in this study, and with out reports from both parents it is unknown what effects the other parent might have on the family and child. For example the non-reporting parent may be warm and supportive therefore enacting a buffering effect against the reporting parent's hostility. In contrast, the non-reporting parent may be antagonistic or overtly abusive and exacerbate the overall level of hostility in the family. Another limitation was that they only utilized subjects who were psychiatrically hospitalized. This study does not determine whether children and families in the general community are affected by parental hostility in a similar manner.
A good aspect of this study was the questionnaires used, the PIC assesses children's behavior as reported by a parent, which is the one person to know the child's behavior. A number of factors relevant to childhood behavioral and emotional problems are evaluated through this questionnaire. Another good method used in the study was to have different people fill out the questionnaires, this way no one's opinion has an affect on the way that child is reported. This study examined the effects of he parental hostility on the families of psychiatrically hospitalized children. Children with parents who scored high on hostility appeared to have more problems with social skills. Overall, parental hostility appears to impact negatively upon family functioning in a variety of ways and seems to cause numerous problems for the member of these types of families.