Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2012

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Knutson, John F

First Committee Member

Kochanska, Grazyna

Second Committee Member

Markon, Kristian

Third Committee Member

Nikolas, Molly

Fourth Committee Member

Plumert, Jodie


Child temperament has been implicated as a possible mediator or moderator of the relation between parenting and child outcomes. However, previous studies have lead to ambiguous interpretation of the results due to methodological problems. Sanson et al., (2004) conducted a review of the relation between temperament and social development and outlined four methodological problems with previous research in the field of temperament, two of which were addressed in the current study. The present study examined the moderating role of the three broad child temperament factors on the relation between three forms of parenting practices, punitive discipline, deficient parenting, and poor parental monitoring and child aggressive behaviors. Using a multimethod and multisource design, parent report, child report, observational data, and behavioral tasks were used to create the construct when possible. The present study also controlled for other factors that have been linked to child aggressive behaviors, specifically, child age and gender, maternal personality, and economic disadvantage. Mother report and child report of the criterion were examined separately using hierarchical regression and full information maximum likelihood estimation in path analyses. Three hypotheses were tested: 1) high levels of child negative affectivity will moderate the relation between harsh/punitive discipline and the development of aggressive behavior problems, 2) a combination of inconsistent discipline and neglect, or deficient parenting, will predict aggressive behaviors in children with high levels of surgency, and 3) that poor parental monitoring will predict aggressive behaviors particularly for children low on effortful control.

Results using child report of aggressive behaviors indicated that temperament did not moderate the relationship between parenting practices and aggressive; however, higher use of punitive discipline predicted higher levels of aggressive behaviors. The covariates age and maternal positive emotionality, predicted aggressive behaviors as well, with older children reporting higher rates of aggressive behaviors and higher levels of maternal positive emotionality predicting lower levels of aggressive behaviors in children. Using maternal report of aggressive behaviors, deficient parenting had a main effect on child aggressive behaviors, with higher use of deficient parenting predicted high aggressive behaviors. While temperament did not moderate the relation between parenting and aggressive behaviors using maternal report either, effortful control did have a main effect on aggressive behaviors. That is, higher levels of effortful control predicted lower levels of child aggressive behaviors. As for the parenting variables, only deficient parenting had a direct relation to aggressive behaviors. The covariate maternal negative emotionality also predicted higher levels of mother reported child aggressive behaviors. In summary, although unable to find a moderation effect for temperament, this study found support for harsh punitive discipline and deficient parenting as risk factors of aggressive behaviors in children and found support for effortful control and maternal positive emotionality as protective factors against aggressive behaviors. Results are interpreted in terms of treatment for child aggressive behaviors and the need to examine data from different sources in a non-aggregated manner.


aggression, moderation, parenting, temperament


viii, 98 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 83-98).


Copyright 2012 Nizete-Ly Valles

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