Parental Cognition, Psychopathology and Behaviour


This option will cover current cognitive and affective theories of parenting and examine the links between parenting practice and child outcome.

We will examine and evaluate cognitive and affective predictors of parenting practice including attachment, mind-mindedness, parental styles, and parental beliefs and values.

We will locate these predictors within broader models of parenting such as ecological and systems models, and examine some cultural variations in models and practices.

We will examine intergenerational transmission of parenting practice, including the intergenerational transmission of attachment.

We will then examine the effects of parental psychopathology on parenting cognition, emotion and behaviour, and will assess the effects of a range of parental psychopathologies on child social, emotional and cognitive outcome.

Lecture topics:

  • Theories of parenting: ecological and cognitive models, cultural variations
  • Parenting styles and their outcomes: ‘good enough’ parenting, domain specificity
  • Attachment and its developmental outcomes
  • Cognitive approaches to parenting practices
  • Intergenerational transmission of parenting behaviours and attachment
  • Mental Health problems in parents, their impact on parenting cognition and behaviour, and their effects on child cognition/emotion/social behaviour
  • Postnatal depression and depressed parents
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Psychosis


  • 10 x 2 hour lectures
  • 5 x 1 hour  coursework seminars, weeks 3-7
  • 10 x 1 hour directed reading
  • 11x 1 hour office hours


  • Essay, chosen from a choice of 6 titles (2000 words) (50%)
  • Unseen Examination (2 hours, essay based: 2 essays out of choice of 4) (50%)

Please note that the format of papers in the supplementary examinations may differ from the equivalent main examination paper or class test. Re-sit and deferral students should check the details of the assessment format of supplementary examinations with the Module Leader.

Key skills

  • Written communication
  • Organisation and planning
  • Problem solving
  • Computing and IT
  • Gathering information
  • Critical thinking
  • Using initiative