Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


McKinney, Cliff

Committee Member

Armstrong, Kevin J.

Committee Member

Berman, Mitchell E.

Committee Member

Nadorff, Danielle K.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Campus Access Only


Applied Psychology (Clinical Psychology Concentration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Psychology


Parental discipline behaviors and trait impulsivity are related to the development of psychological problems in children. Less research has examined these relations during emerging adulthood, despite the continued importance of parenting and increases in impulsivity during this time. Thus, the current study examined the association of impulsivity with current parental discipline practices and psychological problems as reported by college-attending emerging adults. Specifically, paternal and maternal discipline practices were examined as moderators between impulsivity and psychological problems with gender as an additional moderator. Participants (N = 911, 38.2% women, 78.0% White, aged 18 to 25) completed self-report measures on current discipline behaviors by parents, the five facets of trait impulsivity, and internalizing and externalizing psychological problems. Path analysis revealed that impulsivity facets (sensation seeking and positive urgency) and parental discipline behaviors were associated with reported internalizing problems particularly in emerging adult college-attending women. Gender moderated the relation between sensation and internalizing problems, with men reporting less problems in the context of high sensation seeking. Women reported more internalizing problems compared to men in the context of low positive urgency and low perceived positive paternal discipline. Results imply that contextual factors (e.g., positive college experience expectancies and gender role belief) may relate to less psychological problems in men, and disappointment and lack of approval from fathers may relate to emotion regulation problems and more internalizing problems in women. Interventions aimed at providing parents education on emerging adults’ mental health factors and improving parent-child communication during this period may improve emerging adults’ psychological well-being.