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Previous research has focused primarily on corporal punishment as a cause and adolescents’ physical aggression as an outcome. However, there is a large gap in knowledge of the potentially bidirectional association and explanatory mechanism underlying the association between corporal punishment and physical aggression. The current study, using a longitudinal design across three time points (the fall semester of 7th grade, the fall of 8th grade, and the fall of 9th grade), aimed to a) examine the reciprocal processes between corporal punishment and physical aggression, and b) explore whether deviant peer affiliation may explain such reciprocal connections. Only adolescents participating in all the three time points were included in this study, resulting in a final sample of 342 adolescents (175 boys, 167 girls) who completed questionnaires regarding corporal punishment, deviant peer affiliation, and aggression. Gender, age and socioeconomic status were controlled for in the analyses. Autoregressive cross-lagged models showed that the results did not support the direct reciprocal effect between corporal punishment and physical aggression among Chinese adolescents. A direct longitudinal link from corporal punishment to physical aggression was found, however, the inverse association was not significant. Moreover, regarding the longitudinal underlying process, in one direction, corporal punishment at 7th grade predicted higher levels of deviant peer affiliation at 8th grade. In turn, higher deviant peer affiliation at 8th grade predicted increased physical aggression at 9th grade. At the same time, in the other direction, adolescent physical aggression at 7th grade significantly predicted deviant peer affiliation at 8th grade. In turn, higher deviant peer affiliation at 8th grade predicted decreased corporal punishment at 9th grade. Identifying the direct and underlying reciprocal processes between corporal punishment and adolescent physical aggression has important implications for an integrative framework of theory and prevention.
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- Deviant Peer Affiliation as an Explanatory Mechanism in the Association between Corporal Punishment and Physical Aggression: a Longitudinal Study among Chinese Adolescents
- Springer US