Week10_Gershoff_2002 - Psychological Bulletin 2002, Vol....

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Corporal Punishment by Parents and Associated Child Behaviors and Experiences: A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical Review Elizabeth Thompson Gershoff Columbia University Although the merits of parents using corporal punishment to discipline children have been argued for decades, a thorough understanding of whether and how corporal punishment affects children has not been reached. Toward this end, the author first presents the results of meta-analyses of the association between parental corporal punishment and 11 child behaviors and experiences. Parental corporal punishment was associated with all child constructs, including higher levels of immediate compliance and aggression and lower levels of moral internalization and mental health. The author then presents a process–context model to explain how parental corporal punishment might cause particular child outcomes and considers alternative explanations. The article concludes by identifying 7 major remaining issues for future research. Corporal punishment has been an integral part of how parents discipline their children throughout the history of the United States (Greven, 1991) and has been a focus of psychological research for decades (e.g., Caselles & Milner, 2000; Eron, Walder, Huesmann, & Lefkowitz, 1974; Glueck & Glueck, 1950; MacKinnon, 1938; J. McCord, 1988b; Sears, 1961; Straus, 1994a). Although a growing number of countries have adopted policies or laws that prohibit parents from using corporal punishment as a means of discipline (Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Norway, and Sweden; Bitensky, 1998; EPOCH- USA, 2000), both support for and use of corporal punishment remain strong in the United States, with 94% of American parents spanking their children by the time they are 3 or 4 years old (Straus & Stewart, 1999). Psychologists and other professionals are divided on the ques- tion of whether the benefits of corporal punishment might out- weigh any potential hazards; some have concluded that corporal punishment is both effective and desirable (e.g., Baumrind, 1996a, 1996b, 1997; Larzelere, 1996, 2000), whereas others have con- cluded that corporal punishment is ineffective at best and harmful at worst (e.g., American Academy of Pediatrics, 1998; Lytton, 1997; J. McCord, 1997; Straus, 1994a). This controversy over corporal punishment has inspired a series of recent debates among psychological, sociological, and legal scholars about what corporal punishment does and does not do for children (see Donaldson, 1997; Friedman & Schonberg, 1996; Mason & Gambrill, 1994; Pervin, 1997). Despite this controversy and the hundreds of scientific studies invoked on either side of the debate, understanding of the child behaviors and experiences associated with parental corporal pun- ishment has been limited to narrative reviews (e.g., Becker, 1964; Straus, 1994a) and “vote count” summaries of the number of positive and negative effects that accrue from corporal punishment (e.g., Larzelere, 1996, 2000; Steinmetz, 1979). Crucial questions remain unanswered, such as what range of child behaviors and experiences are empirically associated with parental corporal pun-
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This note was uploaded on 10/28/2009 for the course HD 2610 taught by Professor Mikels,j. during the Fall '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).

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Week10_Gershoff_2002 - Psychological Bulletin 2002, Vol....

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