Date of Award

Fall 12-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Applied Developmental Psychology



Major Professor

Laura V. Scaramella PhD

Second Advisor

Robert Laird, PhD

Third Advisor

Carl Weems, PhD


Both contextual risk and sensitive parenting have been associated with children’s social skills in early childhood (Brody, Stoneman, Smith & Gibson, 1999; Connell & Prinz, 2002; Oravecz, Koblinsky & Randolph, 2008, Trentacosta, 2008). However, it is not clear how sensitive parenting might impact children’s social skill development in the context of accumulation of risk. The current study tests two possible models. The first model, based on Rutters’ (1979) tests the theory that cumulative risk may moderate the relationship between sensitive parenting and social skills. The second model based on The Family Stress model (Conger, Conger, Elder, Lorenz, Simons & Whitbeck, 1992) tests the theory that sensitive parenting mediates the relationship between accumulation of risk and children’s social skills. The results supported the first model indicating that cumulative risk moderated the relationship between sensitive parenting and children’s social skills. When risk accumulated, there was a relationship between sensitive parenting and social skills where the highest level of sensitive parenting was associated with the highest level of social skills.


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