of Blame for Maltreatment as Predictors of YSR Internalizing
and Externalizing Scores among Canadian Adolescents
researchers Robin McGee, David Wolfe, and James Olson (2001)
tested adolescents' attributions of blame for various kinds
of maltreatment as predictors of YSR scores among 160 adolescents
recruited from a child protection agency. Nearly all the adolescents
had experienced multiple kinds of maltreatment, including
sexual abuse, physical maltreatment, witnessing family violence,
neglect, and emotional maltreatment. The Attribution for
Maltreatment Interview (AFMI) was used to obtain scores
for self-blaming cognition; self-blaming affect; self-excusing;
perpetrator blaming; and perpetrator excusing.
For all types of maltreatment, girls' attributions significantly
predicted YSR Internalizing scores, whereas boys' attributions
predicted Internalizing scores only in relation to neglect.
Girls' YSR Externalizing scores were also predicted by attributions
related to sexual abuse. Some effect sizes for prediction
of YSR Internalizing scores were quite large, ranging up to
46% of variance for girls' attributions in relation to sexual
abuse and 35% of variance for boys' attributions in relation
to neglect. McGee et al. also reported evidence for mediator
vs. moderator effects of attributions on YSR and CBCL Internalizing
and Externalizing scores. The authors concluded that their
"findings point to a complex mechanism by which perceived
maltreatment severity and attributions influence adjustment.
Each variable exerts both a combined and unique impact on
symptomatology. Moreover, the extent to which the youth has
coherently integrated the abuse experience with attributions
is relevant. The more confused and conflicting the perceptions
and attributions, the worse the observable behavior problems"
McGee, R., Wolfe, D., & Olson, J. (2001). Multiple Maltreatment,
Attribution of Blame, and Adjustment Among Adolescents. Development
and Psychopathology, 13, 827-846.