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A longitudinal examination of mothers’ and fathers’ social information processing biases and harsh discipline in nine countries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 April 2014

Jennifer E. Lansford*
Duke University
Darren Woodlief
University of South Carolina
Patrick S. Malone
University of South Carolina
Paul Oburu
Maseno University, Kenya
Concetta Pastorelli
Rome University La Sapienza
Ann T. Skinner
Duke University
Emma Sorbring
University West, Sweden
Sombat Tapanya
Chiang Mai University
Liliana Maria Uribe Tirado
Rome University La Sapienza Universidad San Buenaventura
Arnaldo Zelli
University of Rome Foro Italico
Suha M. Al-Hassan
Hashemite University
Liane Peña Alampay
Ateneo de Manila University
Dario Bacchini
Second University of Naples
Anna Silvia Bombi
Rome University La Sapienza
Marc H. Bornstein
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Lei Chang
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Kirby Deater-Deckard
Virginia Tech
Laura Di Giunta
Rome University La Sapienza
Kenneth A. Dodge
Duke University
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jennifer E. Lansford, Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University, Box 90545, Durham, NC 27708; E-mail:


This study examined whether parents’ social information processing was related to their subsequent reports of their harsh discipline. Interviews were conducted with mothers (n = 1,277) and fathers (n = 1,030) of children in 1,297 families in nine countries (China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States), initially when children were 7 to 9 years old and again 1 year later. Structural equation models showed that parents’ positive evaluations of aggressive responses to hypothetical childrearing vignettes at Time 1 predicted parents’ self-reported harsh physical and nonphysical discipline at Time 2. This link was consistent across mothers and fathers, and across the nine countries, providing support for the universality of the link between positive evaluations of harsh discipline and parents’ aggressive behavior toward children. The results suggest that international efforts to eliminate violence toward children could target parents’ beliefs about the acceptability and advisability of using harsh physical and nonphysical forms of discipline.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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