Date of Award

Fall 2004

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Carolyn Mebert


There were two goals of this research: (1) to establish that normative corporal punishment has an impact on children's mental health and the parent-child relationship and (2) to identify intrapersonal variables that determine the impact of this parenting behavior. The first study examined the influence of corporal punishment across infancy and early childhood with longitudinal analyses performed on data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The results suggest that corporal punishment does have a direct, unique impact on children's mental health and on the mother-child relationship. For the second study, a college sample was studied to examine the intervening role of individuals' subjective experiences of their parents' use of corporal punishment. The results of this study indicate that both perceived stress and attitudes towards corporal punishment play an important intervening role in determining the impact of physical punishment. These findings are relevant to the current debate among social scientists regarding the potential negative effects of corporal punishment and for formulating theoretical models of the effects of corporal punishment. The policy implications of these findings are discussed.