Judgments and Reasoning About Parental Discipline Involving Induction and Psychological Control in China and Canada


  • This research was supported by a grant to Charles C. Helwig from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (410050353), and by research funds from the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto. The authors would like to thank the children and their parents and the teachers of the participating schools, who gave so generously of their time and efforts in making this research possible. The authors would also like to thank Chang Chen and Hua Lian for assistance with reliability coding.


This study examined judgments and reasoning about four parental discipline practices (induction or reasoning and three practices involving “psychological control”; Barber, 1996; two forms of shaming and love withdrawal) among children (7–14 years of age) from urban and rural China and Canada (N = 288) in response to a moral transgression. Children from all settings critically evaluated love withdrawal and preferred induction. Despite being perceived as more common in China than in Canada, with age, parental discipline based on shaming or love withdrawal was increasingly negatively evaluated and believed to have detrimental effects on children's feelings of self-worth and psychological well-being. Some cultural variations were found in evaluations of practices, perceptions of psychological harm, and attribution of parental goals.