Maternal differential treatment and child adjustment: A multi-informant approach

J Coldwell, A Pike, J Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The study aimed to replicate previous links with children's adjustment as well as using children's reports of maternal differential treatment (MDT) to test whether difference scores or favouritism scores demonstrate stronger links with child outcome. Finally, it tested for a unique prediction of children's adjustment from distinct aspects and informants of MDT. The sample consisted of 173 working- and middle-class English families with two children aged four to eight years. Mothers provided reports of the mother-child relationship, and both mothers and fathers provided reports of the children's problematic behaviour. The children also provided reports of parent-child relationships and perceived favouritism via a puppet interview. Results confirmed moderate links between MDT and children's adjustment and showed that difference scores provided a better prediction of adjustment than did the favouritism scores. Finally, the results showed that mothers' reports of differential positive feelings were the most salient aspect of MDT for older siblings whereas mothers' reports of negative feelings and positive discipline were the most salient aspects of MDT for younger siblings
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596 - 612
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008


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