The purpose of this study was to examine the potentially unique roles that parental use of two psychological control dimensions, shame and disappointment, play in predicting children's relational and physical aggression. It was additionally of interest to investigate whether warm/involved parenting would moderate the effects of these forms of psychological control on both types of childhood aggression. Based on a review of literature, it was hypothesized that parental use of shame would positively predict aggression in children, whereas parental use of disappointment would not be significantly associated with childhood aggression. Additionally, it was hypothesized that warm, involved parenting would have varied interactions with shaming and disappointment. Specifically, it was expected that warmth and involvement would exacerbate the aversive affects of shaming (leading to more child relational aggression), but that warmth and involvement would enhance the effect of disappointment to curtail relationally aggressive behavior. The participants were 217 fourth grade children (100 boys, 117 girls) and their parents (184 fathers, 216 mothers) from two school districts in an urban, moderate-sized community in the Western United States. Separate regression models were conducted for pairs of psychologically controlling and positive parenting dimensions in order to test for the main effects of the variables and also potential interaction effects. Additionally, this study explored the interactions between warm/involved parenting and shame and disappointment as they affected childhood aggression. To a large extent, the hypotheses were confirmed. In line with expectations, parental use of shame was significantly and positively associated with both physical and relational aggression, whereas disappointment was not. Interestingly, mothers' use of shaming significantly predicted relational aggression in all models for both boys and girls, whereas physical aggression was predicted only twice, once in the mother-son dyad and once in the father-daughter dyad. Two forms of warmth and involvement emerged in exploratory factor analysis: expressive warmth and supportive involvement. These positive parenting dimensions demonstrated very few main effects and only one significant moderating effect, which was on the relationship between shame and physical aggression. Specifically, post hoc analysis showed that fathers' use of shaming significantly and positively predicted boys' physical aggression only when supportive involvement was low. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage, Family, and Human Development



Date Submitted


Document Type





psychological control, guilt induction, guilt, disappointment, shame, relational aggression, physical aggression, childhood aggression, aggression, warmth, involvement, support, parental, parenting