Social information Processing (SIP) biases have been associated with child abuse risk. However, little research was conducted with the purpose to evaluate the contribution of the SIP model in the prediction of child abuse risk, with most research testing SIP components independent from the model. This study aimed to extend the validity of the SIP model of parenting by employing factors across different stages of the theory in order to predict child abuse risk. We hypothesized that parental cognitive schema can influence abuse risk directly and indirectly through biased processing of information.
Results from 140 studies were integrated using a two stage meta-analytic structural equation modeling procedure. Studies were identified via three databases: The Psychological Abstracts International, ISI Web of Science and PubMed.
Meta-analytic results indicate significant associations among all study variables, except for the one between perception of child adjustment and unrealistic expectations (r = .048, p > .05). Path analysis results lend evidence for the role of SIP variables in predicting child abuse risk (R2 = 0.22) and support the role of cognitive processing in the link between cognitive schema and child abuse risk.
Findings support the SIP model as a good framework to study child abuse risk and underscore the need to focus on SIP patterns when assessing and intervening with abusive families or families at high risk of abuse. Targeting cognitions related to children and child rearing in parenting interventions could influence the process and outcomes of such programs.