The role of children's appraisals on adjustment following psychological maltreatment: A pilot study

Fiona Leeson, Reginald Nixon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    29 Citations (Scopus)


    Little is known about the cognitive mechanisms involved in the development of psychopathology following psychological maltreatment in children. This study therefore examined the role of thinking styles on children's outcomes following this subtype of maltreatment. Children who had experienced past maltreatment (n=24) and a control group (n=26) were assessed using self-report questionnaires. Maltreatment history, cognitive styles and psychological outcomes, such as depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and self-esteem were assessed. Parents/caregivers also completed a measure of child internalizing and externalizing behaviours. Psychological maltreatment made a significant contribution to children's self-reported depression and low self-esteem, and parent reported internalizing and externalizing problems, even after controlling for other abusive experiences. This was not the case for PTSD symptoms. Further, children's cognitive styles were associated with self-reported depression, self-esteem and PTSD. They did not, however, predict parent-rated emotional and behavioural problems. This study provides preliminary support for a cognitive model of adjustment following psychological maltreatment. The results indicate the need for enhanced community awareness about the impact of psychological maltreatment, and suggest a direction for therapeutic intervention.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)759-771
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • Child abuse
    • Cognitions
    • Emotional abuse
    • Psychological abuse
    • Psychopathology


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