Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Matthew Geyer

Abstract

Children who suffered parental abuse or neglect can be returned home if their safety can be ensured following offender treatment. However, some caregivers will continue to abuse or neglect their children upon return home, leading to additional treatment, state involvement, and harm to the child. This study assessed personality differences between child abusers and neglectors who were caregivers by applying a binary logistical regression analysis to the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, Second Edition (MMPI-2) scores sampled from archival data for 215 caregivers. Analysis showed that the abusers had statistically significant higher scores on the F Scale (â??Faking Badâ??), but significantly lower scores on Scale 6 (Paranoia) than neglectors. While trait theory asserts that personality aspects are fundamentally fixed, there are treatment implications for differing personality defects. Even though caregivers who had their children removed for abuse or neglect are currently treated homogenously by the legal system, it was hypothesized that the two groups, abuse or neglect, would have different personality traits. Greater insights into the caregiver personalities can lead to more specific treatment, with separate components tailored to the individual, and improved case outcomes for caregivers reunited with their children after child protective services involvement. The social change implication of this study is the continued safety of children through improved treatment for the caregiver, a decrease in recidivism, and lowered child maltreatment rates in the community through a better psychological understanding of the offending caregiver.

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