Abstract: A Study of the “Faking Good” Index of the Child Abuse Potential Inventory: Associations with Parenting Behaviors (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

42 A Study of the “Faking Good” Index of the Child Abuse Potential Inventory: Associations with Parenting Behaviors

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Katherine W Paschall, MS, Doctoral Candidate, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
Catherine Ayoub, EdD, Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Ann Mastergeorge, PhD, Professor, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
The Child Abuse Potential Inventory’s Abuse Scale (CAPI; Milner, 1986) is a widely used self-report assessment of parenting attitudes and practices that predict child risk for physical abuse. The CAPI also has distortion indices, including the “faking good” index, which aid clinicians in interpreting the trustworthiness of the Abuse Scale score. Assessments that indicate a mother is “faking good” are rendered unusable. Previous research studies have removed as many as 33% of their total samples due to scores distorted by the “faking good” index. However, considering that parents “fake good” as a function of social desirability or psychopathology, it is important to examine the differences between those who do and do not “fake good.” Mothers who “fake good” may represent a unique subgroup at elevated risk for dysfunctional parenting practices. Few studies have examined differences between mothers who “fake good” versus those with valid scores; the limited evidence suggests only small differences in intellectual functioning (e.g., Costell & McNeil, 2014). The purpose of this study was to examine if “faking good” on the CAPI is a uniquely associated with unsupportive parenting compared to two groups of mothers with valid CAPI scores: those below and above the clinical cutoff for risk for child abuse potential.

The current sample is from one site drawn from the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project (N  = 92). Data were collected from parents at child age 14-months. Based upon scores on the “faking good” index and Abuse scale, mothers were classified into three groups:  (1) “faking good” (n = 40), (2) “valid, low risk” (n = 33), or (3) “valid, high risk” (n =19). Mothers’ parenting was observed during the Three-Bag Task (Brady-Smith et al., 2000) and the following dimensions were coded: Cognitive Stimulation, Positive Regard, Sensitivity, Intrusiveness, Detachment, and Negative Regard.

Results indicated that the faking good group had significantly lower scores on cognitive stimulation and supportiveness compared with both of the valid groups. The faking good group also exhibited higher levels of detachment, intrusiveness, and negative regard compared to the valid, low risk group. These findings suggest that “faking good” on the CAPI is associated with reduced levels of supportive behaviors, and that mothers who are “faking good” are just as unsupportive (i.e., harsh, detached) as mothers with valid, but high scores on the CAPI Abuse scale. This study is among the first to look specifically at mothers with these distorted scores; the findings highlight the importance of studying exaggeration of positive attributes. Future research on the sequelae of such exaggeration may provide salient clinical information for assessments of risk and abuse.