Does spanking really have lasting impacts on kids’ later lives? In episode 82, Nicole Barbaro from Western Governors University Labs talks with us about her research into the factors that determine the answer to this question. Her study “The effects of spanking on psychosocial outcomes: revisiting genetic and environmental covariation” was developed with Eric Connolly, Madi Sogge, Todd Shackelford, and Brian Boutwell and first uploaded on March 8th, 2020 to the preprint server PsyArXiv.

Moderating Spanking's Lasting Impacts - Nicole Barbaro
Moderating Spanking's Lasting Impacts - Nicole Barbaro
Moderating Spanking's Lasting Impacts - Nicole Barbaro Moderating Spanking's Lasting Impacts - Nicole Barbaro
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Hosts / Producers

Doug Leigh & Ryan Watkins

How to Cite

Leigh, D., Watkins, R., & Barbaro, N.. (2020). Parsing Science – Moderating Spanking’s Lasting Impacts. doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.12921989


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Nicole Barbaro: Our research shows that there is a negative effect of spanking on child outcomes. But the effect size – or how detrimental that effect is – is substantially reduced.

Doug Leigh: This is Parsing Science, the unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science as told by the researchers themselves. I’m Doug Leigh.

Ryan Watkins: And I’m Ryan Watkins. Today in episode 82 of Parsing Science, we’ll talk with Nicole Barbaro, from Western Governors University Labs about her research into what factors determine if being spanked as a child leads to long term negative outcomes or not. Here’s Nicole Barbaro.

Barbaro: My name is Nicole Barbaro, and my background is in psychology. So I have a PhD in experimental psychology from Oakland University. Currently, I am a research scientist at WGU Labs where I do primarily education research. So, I majored in psychology in my undergrad. And then my junior year in undergrad, I got an opportunity from one of my professors to work in his lab. And my job was literally to double-check the numbers that someone else already inputted into the computer. So for, I think, two weeks, I literally sat there and I just had a giant pile of survey packets, and I just checked through all the numbers. And there’s a couple of times that I found an error. And you know, it was the most exciting thing to actually like, feel like I was contributing to something. So I went into the experience thinking that I would not want to actually go into research. And actually throughout that very mundane first couple weeks I really fell in love with the research process, and I had a really good time doing it. So I decided to go to graduate school kind of near the end of undergrad. Kind of my research interests have taken kind of some weaving paths, which I think has actually contributed nicely to my well rounded experience in psychology. I primarily focus on close relationships, primarily romantic relationships, at the beginning. And then I started to realize that it’s really difficult to understand adult psychological phenomena that we typically study without understanding how these things develop. And that kind of led to this general project of understanding the impact that parents have developmentally on adolescent and adult outcomes. So a little bit varied path. But a straightforward path is never as exciting in my opinion.

Leigh: Nicole’s work is at the intersection of evolutionary psychology, which he just described, and behavioral genetics, a scientific discipline that uses genetic methods to investigate the nature and origins of individual differences in behavior. So Ryan and I began our conversation by asking her how she sees these two fields as informing each other.

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