Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Development and Family Studies


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Kere . Hughes-Belding


Parental reflective functioning (PRF) is a crucial mentalization skill that influences how parents respond to their children (Rutherford, 2013). Reflective functioning, in a general sense, is a mentalizing skill used to understand the emotional states and intentions of others (Slade 2005). The reflective functioning capacity of parents has been shown to predict parent-child attachment and children’s overall developmental outcomes (Fonagy, 1991; Heron-Delaney, 2016; Smaling, 2017). PRF specifically focuses on a parent’s ability to reflect on the internal experience of their child while also attending to their own reactions, thoughts, and feelings about their child. This study was a preliminary investigation into the hypothesized relationships between parental social cognitions, including PRF and parental attitudes, and the quality of mother-child play interactions with 40 dyads to determine what specific parental social cognitions are the strongest predictors of parent behavior during interactions. Initial correlations did not support these hypotheses as there were no significant relationships between parental social cognitions and mother-child interactions in this sample. However, PRF and parental attitudes were significantly related to each other and to knowledge of child development. These findings suggest a complex relationship between PRF and parental attitudes that should continue to be studied.

Copyright Owner

Janelle Justine Blanco Carlson



File Format


File Size

58 pages