The Affects of Corporal Punishment

Annotated Bibliography Entry #2

By Demian Langer

Pinker, Susan. “Spanking for Misbehavior? It Causes More.” The Wall Street Journal, Accesses 25 January 2018

 Susan Pinker’s article in the popular magazine the Wall Street Journal has been referenced by a number of other authors debating the negative affects of using corporal punishment to discipline children. Pinker begins by pointing out that “two thirds of American parents, when asked by the federally funded Gen. social survey in 2016, agreed with the statement, “Sometimes a child just needs a good, hard spanking.””  She then examines a 2016 meta-analysis of five decades of research that links spanking to later behavioural problems. After outlining the possible faults in such an analysis, Pinker brings to light a more recent study of more than 12,000 American families that was specifically designed to circumvent the difficulties and inaccuracies inherent in previous studies. Even after carefully accounting for the possible faults found in the data; this more recent study confirms that the use of corporal punishment does indeed have a negative affect on children. I have incorporated this article into my research, because it seems to be the spark that has renewed the debate on this issue. It also lays out some of the difficulties in obtaining accurate research regarding corporal punishment, and discusses ways in which current and future research can be made to be more reliable.



Gershoff, Elizabeth. (2018) “Strengthening Causal Estimates for Links Between Spanking and Children’s Externalizing Behavior Problems” In Psychological Science, 29(1) 110-120

Elizabeth Gershoff’s peer-reviewed research in the January 2018 issue of the psychological science journal aims to counterbalance the challenges inherent in obtaining accurate research on social issues like determining the affects spanking children. By using “propensity score matching based on the lifetime prevalence and recent incidents of spanking in a large and nationally representative sample as well as lagged dependent variables” the study aimed to “get as close to causal estimates outside an experiment as possible”. The “statistically rigorous methods” arrive at the conclusion that spanking does in fact have a negative effect on the behaviour of children.I chose to include this journal article in my research because it not only provides a more recent statistical analysis of the spanking issue, it lays out the probable flaws in prior research and aims to overcome them. Susan Pinker’s article references this research, and it directly answers some of the objections put forth by spanking enthusiasts with regards to earlier research.