Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Jeffrey D. Burke, Ph.D., Stephanie Milan, Ph.D., Julian D. Ford, Ph.D.

Field of Study

Psychological Sciences


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


Objective. Evidence suggests that parents’ verbal aggression, corporal punishment, and inter-partner conflict are linked to children’s heightened conduct problems and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). While children mutually influence parenting, strength of bidirectional relationships among these specific behaviors have been inconsistent across gender; further investigation is warranted to understand links between parental aggression and girls’ ODD symptoms. The current study tests independent reciprocal effects between specific forms of parental aggression and girls’ ODD dimensions of oppositionality, antagonism, and irritability. Method. Annual data from the longitudinal Pittsburgh Girls Study were used to evaluate parental aggression and girls’ ODD symptoms in a community sample (N = 2,450). From child ages 5-16, parents reported on girls’ disruptive behaviors and their own aggression towards children and partners. Separate longitudinal generalized estimate equations examined parent and child behavior outcomes from predictors lagged by one timepoint. Results. After controlling for demographic factors, behavior stability, and other symptomology, corporal punishment predicted girls’ increasing antagonism, parent-partner psychological aggression predicted both antagonism and irritability, and parent-child verbal aggression predicted increases across ODD dimensions. Girls’ oppositionality and antagonism predicted increasing use of parent-child verbal aggression over time. Conclusions. Bidirectional associations emerged indicating that parents’ use of verbal aggression towards daughters escalates reciprocally with girls’ behavioral ODD symptoms, but not irritability, which only demonstrated an effect of parenting. These findings highlight the importance of examining specific aggressive parent behaviors and ODD dimensions to evaluate independent effects, and suggest that girls’ ODD is most salient in transaction with parents’ verbal aggression.

Major Advisor

Jeffrey D. Burke, Ph.D.