Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 717-730

First online:

Parental Physical Punishment and Adolescent Adjustment: Bidirectionality and the Moderation Effects of Child Ethnicity and Parental Warmth

  • Ming-Te WangAffiliated withSchool of Education, Department of Psychology, Learning Research & Development Center, University of Pittsburgh Email author 
  • , Sarah KennyAffiliated withInstitute for Social Research, University of Michigan

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This study used cross-lagged modeling to examine reciprocal relations between maternal and paternal physical punishment and adolescent misconduct and depressive symptoms, while accounting for stability in both physical punishment and adjustment problems over time. Data were drawn from a sample of 862 two-parent families and their adolescent children (52 % males; 54 % European American; 44 % African American; 2 % other ethnic backgrounds). Mothers’ and fathers’ physical punishment of their adolescents’ ages 12 and 14 predicted increased misconduct and depressive symptoms among these adolescents at ages 14 and 16. Adolescent misconduct, but not depressive symptoms, at ages 12 and 14 predicted increased physical punishment by their parents at ages 14 and 16. Neither parental warmth nor child ethnicity moderated the longitudinal relationship between parental physical punishment and adolescent adjustment. Patterns of findings were similar across mothers and fathers.


Adolescence Physical punishment Misconduct Depressive symptoms Parental warmth Transactional process