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Can Women Provide Reliable Information about Their Children's Fathers? Cross-informant Agreement about Men's Lifetime Antisocial Behaviour

  • Avshalom Caspi (a1), Alan Taylor (a1), Matt Smart (a1), Jan Jackson (a1), Steve Tagami (a1) and Terrie E. Moffitt (a1)...

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.

Corresponding author
Requests for reprints to: Avshalom Caspi, Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Research Centre, 111 Denmark Hill, Institute of Psychiatry, London SE5 8AF, U.K. (E-mail:
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The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
  • ISSN: 0021-9630
  • EISSN: 1469-7610
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-psychology-and-psychiatry-and-allied-disciplines
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