Term of Award

Spring 2007

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Chris L. Gibson

Committee Member 1

William L. Smith

Committee Member 2

Pidi Zhang

Abstract

Substantial research supports the association between corporal punishment and children's behavioral problems, suggesting that punishment leads to both internalizing and externalizing behaviors. However, this research has not been able to discern the direction of causality in this relationship for many reasons, including a lack of experimental data. The purpose of this study is to assess the causal effect of corporal punishment on internalizing and externalizing behaviors by using a Propensity Score Matching (PSM) analysis. This study uses data from waves 1 and 2 of the longitudinal cohort study of the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN), including 6, 9, 12, and 15 year old cohorts. Results reveal two major findings as they relate to the effects of corporal punishment on children's behavioral outcomes. First, results show that a large amount of selection bias exists before matching occurred. Second, once matching was implemented no causal effect remained for corporal punishment on the proposed outcome measures. Limitations and ways of overcoming them in future research are also discussed.

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