Analog assessment of frustration tolerance: Association with self-reported child abuse risk and physiological reactivity

Academic Article

Abstract

  • Although frustration has long been implicated in promoting aggression, the potential for poor frustration tolerance to function as a risk factor for physical child abuse risk has received minimal attention. Instead, much of the extant literature has examined the role of anger in physical abuse risk, relying on self-reports of the experience or expression of anger, despite the fact that this methodology is often acknowledged as vulnerable to bias. Therefore, the present investigation examined whether a more implicit, analog assessment of frustration tolerance specifically relevant to parenting would reveal an association with various markers of elevated physical child abuse risk in a series of samples that varied with regard to age, parenting status, and abuse risk. An analog task was designed to evoke parenting-relevant frustration: the task involved completing an unsolvable task while listening to a crying baby or a toddler's temper tantrum; time scores were generated to gauge participants' persistence in the task when encountering such frustration. Across these studies, low frustration tolerance was associated with increased physical child abuse potential, greater use of parent-child aggression in discipline encounters, dysfunctional disciplinary style, support for physical discipline use and physical discipline escalation, and increased heart rate. Future research directions that could better inform intervention and prevention programs are discussed, including working to clarify the processes underlying frustration intolerance and potential interactive influences that may exacerbate physical child abuse.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 22314704
  • Author List

  • Rodriguez CM; Russa MB; Kircher JC
  • Start Page

  • 121
  • End Page

  • 131
  • Volume

  • 46