Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



Corporal punishment can be defined as using physical force with intent to cause pain when punishing a child (Straus, 2000). A substantial amount of research supports that corporal punishment has a negative effect on a child’s social and emotional development, specifically empathy and moral development. Studies also support that those who received corporal punishment as children are more likely to use corporal punishment with their own children (Gagné, Tourigny, & Pouliot-Lapointe, 2007). This current study elaborates on both these aspects of previous research. Three hypotheses frame this study: 1) Receiving corporal punishment as a child predicts lower empathy and moral judgment development. 2) Parental usage of corporal punishment (PUCP) predicts the likelihood of using corporal punishment as a parent (LUCPP). 3) LUCPP mediates the effect of PUCP such that increased and decreased LUCPP respectively account for PUCP’s effect on empathy and moral development. Results from this study showed a significant correlation between corporal punishment and moral judgement development, but not empathy. There was also a positive significant correlation between PUCP and LUCPP. However, LUCPP was not found to mediate the effect of PUCP on moral development.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Pitt Derryberry, Dr. Thomas Gross, Dr. Christopher Keller


Psychiatry and Psychology