Tough love or hostile domination? Psychological control and relational induction in cultural context

J Fam Psychol. 2012 Dec;26(6):966-75. doi: 10.1037/a0030457. Epub 2012 Oct 29.


The authors examined 2 forms of parental psychological control and how they related to child behavior problems in 2 cultural groups. A sample of 165 Hong Kong (HK) Chinese and 96 European American (EA) parents completed measures of parental control strategies, parental rejection, and child behavior problems. The use of hostile psychological control (criticism, interference, invalidation) was more strongly associated with the use of relational induction (guilt induction, shaming, reciprocity, social comparison) among EAs compared with HK parents. Psychological control was related to parental rejection across both groups, but it was only independently associated with child behavior problems for EA families. Relational induction, on the other hand, was not associated with child behavior problems in either group but was more strongly associated with parental rejection among EAs compared with HK parents. The findings suggest that there are distinguishable forms of psychological control that may have distinctive implications for parent-child relations and child behavioral adjustment depending on the cultural context.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / ethnology
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • China
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Culture
  • Family Conflict
  • Female
  • Hong Kong
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Love
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations / ethnology*
  • Parenting / ethnology
  • Parenting / psychology
  • United States