Can women provide reliable information about their children's fathers? cross-informant agreement about men's lifetime antisocial behaviour

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2001 Oct;42(7):915-20. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00787.


It is difficult to study the contribution of fathers' antisocial behaviour to children's development because fathers with behavioural problems are often absent or reluctant to participate in research. This study examines whether mothers' reports about their children's fathers' antisocial behaviour can be substituted for interviews with fathers. Both members of 67 couples (N = 134) were interviewed separately and independently about the men's lifetime antisocial behaviour. There was strong relative agreement: the women's reports about men's antisocial behaviour and the men's self-reports about the same behaviour were highly correlated. However, there was poor agreement about absolute level: compared to men's self-reports, women reported fewer of the men's antisocial behaviours. Women's reports provide a reliable index of men's relative standing in a distribution and can be used in research about their children's fathers, but should not be used to make diagnostic decisions about men's antisocial disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Family / psychology
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Observer Variation
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self Disclosure*
  • United Kingdom