Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Perceptions and Experiences of Physical Punishment in Childhood and Their Subsequent Impact on Social and Psychological Functioning in American and Mexican Populations

Carol Quintana, Fielding's School of Psychology

The purpose of this study was to determine whether cultural differences exist in the perception and experience of physical abuse in childhood for Americans and Mexicans. The study examined the impact of perceptions and experiences of childhood physical abuse on subsequent adult psychological and interpersonal functioning. The concept of physical abuse was presented from the perspective of its relationship to parental discipline as a function of child-rearing. Eighty-nine Americans and 101 Mexicans completed questionnaires to assess for childhood disciplinary experiences, perceptions of being abused, and adult social and psychological functioning. Participants completed the following questionnaires: the Emotional and Physical Abuse Questionnaire (EPAB; Carlin et al., 1994) as modified by Randazzo and Fallon (2009); the Symptom Checklist-90 Items (SCL-90; non-copyrighted version); and the CAGE substance abuse measure (Ewing, 1984). This cross-cultural study employed a quasi-experimental design with two non-random samples. Results indicated that Americans experienced harsher discipline than Mexicans contrary to the study’s hypothesis. Of those that met researcher criteria for abuse, perceptions of physical abuse did not differ significantly by cultural group. Mexicans who were physically abused had lower levels of depression, hostility, and interpersonal sensitivity than physically abused Americans.

Key words: Child-rearing, socialization, physical discipline, physical abuse, cross-cultural differences, ethnic minority groups, Mexico

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