Parenting and Late Adolescent Emotional Adjustment: Mediating Effects of Discipline and Gender

Harsh discipline strategies were predictive of poor emotional adjustment in emerging adults, while positive discipline predicted healthy adjustment.

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  • N: 526 - 163 males and 363 females
  • Subject Ages: Mean 19.22 years
  • Location: Not available
  • SES: 63% reported a total parental income between $30,000 and $99,999, 26.4% reported total parental income in excess of $100,000
  • Eligibility: Individuals aged within the developmental time frame of emerging adulthood
  • Additional:
    • Participants were enrolled in an introductory psychology course
    • 76.2% Caucasion, 9.7% Hispanic, 6.5% African American, 1.9% Asian, 3.6% other ethnic background


  1. Perceived authoritative parenting will be related inversely with perceived harshness of discipline, whereas perceived authoritarian parenting will be related directly with perceived harshness of discipline.
  2. Perceived authoritative parenting will be related inversely to poor emotional adjustment in emerging adults, and perceived authoritarian parenting and perceived harshness of discipline will be related directly to poor emotional adjustment in emerging adults.
  3. Perceived discipline strategies will mediate the effect of perceived parenting styles and emerging adult emotional adjustment. That is, perceived parenting styles will share a significant relationship with emerging adult emotional adjustment independently, but this effect will be eliminated when examined in the context of perceived discipline strategies.

Variables Measured, Instruments Used

  • Parenting style -
    • items from the care and overprotection scale of the Parental Bonding Instrument
    • three subscales from the Parental Authority Questionnaire
  • Discipline strategy - Conflict Tactics Scale, Parent-Child version
  • Emotional adjustment -
    • the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory
    • the Beck Depression Inventory
    • the Manifest Anxiety Scale




  1. Perceived discipline strategies remain a significant predictor of emerging adults’ emotional adjustment across all models, whereas perceived parenting styles remain a significant predictor for females only.


  • Generalizability of the findings: Over 3/4 of participants were Caucasian.
  • Very few participants reported backgrounds of low socioeconomic status.
  • Sole reliance on the self-report of emerging adult participants
  • Information regarding participant living status (e.g., at home, on campus, etc.) and amount of contact with parents was not collected.
  • Correlational in nature: This study is unable to determine causation.
  • Many other factors not studied here may influence emerging adults’ emotional adjustment as well.