Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation




Clinical-Community Psychology

First Advisor

Ronald J Prinz


The purpose of this study was to examine relations between parents' contingent responding to their children and the behavior of their preschool-aged children, in the context of other relevant parenting behaviors. Parents were observed interacting with their 3-6 year-old children during two laboratory tasks. Parent responses to child bids were classified into four mutually exclusive categories: contingent responses, non-contingent non-negative responses, negative responses, and no response. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to examine relations between contingent responsiveness and child compliance as well as child off-task behavior, after accounting for the quality of parent directives, parent verbosity, and parent negativity. Contingent responsiveness was uniquely associated with greater child compliance for mothers during both tasks and for fathers during one task. An interaction effect was found, indicating that fathers' responsiveness during the second task was associated with greater child compliance in older, but not younger, children. No main effects of contingent responsiveness on child off-task behavior were found. Maternal contingent responsiveness was associated with less off-task behavior for younger children, while older children exhibited more off-task behavior as contingent responding increased. Maternal contingent responsiveness was associated with less off-task behavior for boys, but not for girls. Implications for future research as well as clinical practice are discussed.