Wednesday, April 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Study: Parents overestimate kids’ optimism

By
From page A3 | October 25, 2012 | Leave Comment

Parents consistently overestimate their children’s optimism and downplay their worries, according to new research by psychologists at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain.

The findings suggest that secondhand evaluations by parents or other adults of children’s emotional well-being need to be treated with caution.

Many psychologists and researchers have long held that children under the age of 7 cannot accurately report how they feel, said Kristin Lagattuta, associate professor of psychology at UCD, who led the study. So behavioral scientists frequently rely on the impressions of parents, teachers and other adults.

However, several studies have shown that parents think their kids are smarter than they really are — for example, parents often overestimate how well their children will perform on math, language or other cognitive tests.

“We thought this ‘positivity bias’ also might apply to how parents perceive their children’s emotional well-being,” Lagattuta said.

Lagattuta, with Liat Sayfan, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Mind and Brain, and Christi Bamford, a former UCD graduate student, made the discovery while conducting larger studies on individual differences in children’s social reasoning.

Rather than rely just on parent questionnaires, the researchers decided to assess kids’ views of their own emotions.

They developed a picture-based rating scale that children could use to rate how often they felt different kinds of emotions. The team got the children used to the scale with basic questions such as how often they eat a particular food or wear clothes of a particular color.

In three separate studies involving more than 500 children ages 4 through 11, they found that parents consistently rated their children as being less worried and more optimistic than the children rated themselves.

The questions involved common childhood anxieties such as being scared of the dark, or worries about something bad happening to a family member.

Lagattuta and her colleagues also found that parents’ own emotions biased not only how they perceived their children’s emotions, but also the degree of discrepancy between the parent and child reports.

The fact that there was a difference between adults and children in rating both anxiety and optimism showed that there wasn’t a simple effect of children giving themselves higher scores for everything, Lagattuta said. Instead, children consistently provided higher ratings than parents when reporting their worries and lower ratings than parents when evaluating their feelings of optimism.

Previous research with parents suffering from anxiety or depression have shown that parents’ own emotions influence how they evaluate their children’s feelings, Lagattuta added. The current findings show that this is a mainstream phenomenon not specific to adults with mood disorders.

The results do not invalidate previous work involving parent reports of children’s emotions, Lagattuta said. But they do show that secondhand evaluations by parents or other adults need to be treated with care. Ideally, researchers should get emotion reports of children from multiple sources, including the child, Lagattuta said.

Awareness of this parental positivity bias may also encourage adults to be more attuned to emotional difficulties children may be facing, she noted.

The findings are published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

Bamford is now at the department of psychology at Jacksonville University in Florida.

The work was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

— UC Davis News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

News

 
Frank, Peterman, Davis Bicycles! get us from here to there

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Family fiction in miniature showcased at bookstore event

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Local professor subdues unruly man on flight

By Adrian Glass-Moore | From Page: A3

Yolo Crisis Nursery is in crisis; please help

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Seniors can get tips for getting around town

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
School has garden plots for rent

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Sugar overload, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Rotarians, students, teachers, parents collaborate on planter boxes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Garden doctor: Veggie gardening available year-round

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Animal expert explains dogs’ thinking

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Check out the night sky

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Hop to it: Easter Bunny meets Davis history tour

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Are we there yet?: Self-reflections of a would-be stage mom

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8Comments are off for this post

.

Forum

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

 
Urban forest under siege

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Drought care for our trees

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

 
UCD staff allows 19 hits in Causeway rout

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS softball struggles in nonleague outing

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils open Boras Classic by splitting games

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
JV/frosh roundup: DHS sweeps a trio of baseball games

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Baseball roundup: River Cats get by Grizzlies at Raley

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Giants beat L.A. in 12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Sports briefs: Stanford sends Aggies home with a lacrosse loss

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

 
.

Arts

Craft Center exhibit explores ‘Possibilities’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

 
RootStock to host wine themed plein aire exhibit

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

The California Honeydrops to bring danceable groove to The Palms

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
See Flower Power exhibit at Gallery 625

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Red Union Blue inks record deal

By Landon Christensen | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6