Inhibitory Control and Harsh Discipline as Predictors of Externalizing Problems in Young Children: A Comparative Study of U.S., Chinese, and Japanese Preschoolers

  • Sheryl L. Olson
  • Twila Z. Tardif
  • Alison Miller
  • Barbara Felt
  • Adam S. Grabell
  • Daniel Kessler
  • Li Wang
  • Mayumi Karasawa
  • Hidemi Hirabayashi


We examined associations between child inhibitory control, harsh parental discipline and externalizing problems in 120 4 year-old boys and girls in the US, China, and Japan. Individual differences in children’s inhibitory control abilities, assessed using behavioral tasks and maternal ratings, were related to child externalizing problems reported by mothers. As predicted, both child inhibitory control and maternal harsh discipline made significant contributions to child externalizing problems in all three countries. Across countries, child inhibitory control and maternal harsh discipline made significant independent contributions to early externalizing problems, suggesting an additive model of association. Our findings supported the cross-cultural generalizability of child inhibitory control and parental harsh punishment as key contributors to disruptive behavior in young children.


Inhibitory control Parenting Cultural processes Externalizing problems Preschool Gender differences 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sheryl L. Olson
    • 1
  • Twila Z. Tardif
    • 1
  • Alison Miller
    • 1
  • Barbara Felt
    • 1
  • Adam S. Grabell
    • 1
  • Daniel Kessler
    • 1
  • Li Wang
    • 2
  • Mayumi Karasawa
    • 3
  • Hidemi Hirabayashi
    • 3
  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Peking UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Tokyo Woman’s Christian UniversityTokyoJapan

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