The veridicality of punitive childhood experiences reported by adolescents and young adults


Objective: The primary goal of the present research was to determine whether retrospective reports of childhood disciplinary experiences and perceptions of that discipline correspond to actual childhood events and whether the accuracy of that report was influenced by the affective state of the respondent. Method: Eighty-three adolescent and young adult males completed a retrospective measure of physical child maltreatment, Assessing Environments (AEIII), and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). As children the participants had been observed naturalistically in their homes interacting with their parents an average of 10 years earlier. Results: Analyses were consistent with the hypothesis that both current mood and actual observations of parent-child interactions during childhood predict self-reported recollections of childhood maltreatment by one's parents. Further the veridicality of such recollections appears to depend upon the objective specificity versus the perceptive nature of the questions used to elicit the recollections. Conclusions: The findings suggest that assessment instruments suitable for obtaining information regarding earlier childhood victimization must utilize behaviorally specific items. Thus, items that are either global or intimate a normative comparison should be avoided. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Inc.

Publication Title

Child Abuse and Neglect