Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Cheryl B. McNeil

Committee Co-Chair

William J. Fremouw

Committee Member

Steven G. Kinsey

Committee Member

Natalie J. Shook

Committee Member

Leslie E. Tower


Child maltreatment (e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect) remains a serious public health issue which affects an estimated 19% of victims in the United States (Fang, Brown, Florence, & Mercy, 2013; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010), and therefore, it remains important to continue to engage in quality control of the assessment, prevention, and treatment services for parents and children who have been involved in child maltreatment. Parenting capacity assessments (PCAs) are typically ordered in these cases to offer diagnostic impressions of and treatment recommendations for the referred parent (Budd, Connell, & Clark, 2011). The Child Abuse Potential Inventory (CAPI; Milner, 1986) is a measure that is widely used in PCAs. Faking good on the CAPI during PCAs has been identified as a behavioral pattern that is often observed, thus invalidating important information derived from these assessments. However, despite the negative consequences that typically come from faking-good profiles (i.e., impression of the faking parent as being a liar or manipulative; discarding data from a faking parent in evaluations), few studies have been published which have sought to directly probe for these characteristics. The current study utilized a prospective, "real world" design, in which participants who were receiving parenting services either at community mental health centers or due to involvement with Child Protective Services, were recruited. Sixty-two parents (30 parents who were considered "treatment-seeking without child protection" and 32 parents with child protective services involvement) completed study procedures. In this sample, 22 (35.5%) parents had an invalid profile on the CAPI due to an elevated Faking-good Index. Faking and non-faking parents were compared across four major domains: treatment group (e.g., involvement in child protective services or not), cognitive functioning, measured by scores on the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence, Second Edition (WASI-II; Wechsler, 2011) and the reading comprehension subscale of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, Third Edition (WIAT-III; Wechsler, 2009), self-reported psychopathy, measured by the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale (LSRP; Levenson, Kiehl, & Fitzpatrick, 1995), and a positivity bias (i.e., the tendency to selectively attend to positive over negative information in the environment, even when it is unrealistic) measured by scores from the BeanFest paradigm (Fazio, Eiser, & Shook, 2004). Additionally, faking and non-faking parents were compared across demographic information and other study measures, including the Marlowe Crowne Social Desirability Scale (MCSDS; Crowne & Marlowe, 1960) and the Beck Depression Inventory, Second Edition (BDI-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996). Results from this study supported that faking-good parents had lower intelligence and reading comprehension scores, as well as a positivity bias on the BeanFest. Interestingly, treatment setting (e.g., involvement in child protective services) and psychopathy characteristics did not significantly differentiate faking and non-faking groups. Exploratory analyses revealed a strong association between the CAPI Lie Scale and the Marlowe Crowne Social Desirability Scale (Crowne & Marlowe, 1960), which provides recent data to suggest these two scales may be measuring a similar construct. Implications of study results, limitations of the study, and future directions for follow-up research will also be discussed.