In this chapter, we opted to examine both the differential etiology of violence and the broader question of where the literature stands on an association between warmth/rejection and violence. A search was conducted in the Criminal Justice Abstracts and PsycINFO databases using the following terms for the “warmth” dimension: paternal warmth, maternal warmth, parental warmth, parental rejection, paternal rejection, maternal rejection. We also searched for the terms caretaker rejection, caretaker warmth, maternal affection, hostile parenting, and caregiver warmth. Any published study where any of thse terms appeared in the article text as identified through the Criminal Justice Abstracts database was examined. In PsycINFO, because the warmth and rejection concept is examined over a great many outcomes, these terms were combined using the “and” operator with terms for outcomes: aggression, aggressive, antisocial, arrest, delinquency, violent, violence, theft, nonviolent or non-violent, status, conviction, conduct disorder, conduct problems, crime, criminal, externalizing, externalization, deviance, offending, oppositional defiant disorder, and property. In addition, any relevant item we came across through other means—e.g., items we happened across in our research, items we found looking through references lists—was also added to the master list. (Reference lists of the most relevant articles were examined carefully.) The result of this effort was a bibliography including almost 300 sources. We prioritized the items and obtained and evaluated all those that appeared to report original studies testing an association between parental warmth (or rejection) and aggressive or antisocial outcomes. We did examine studies with ambiguous titles (e.g., “parenting” rather than the more specific term, “parental warmth”). We also included studies where findings relevant to our research question were found in tables displaying findings from studies testing other research questions. This would include, for example, studies where parental warmth is used as a control variable in models of the association between violence and other parenting factors. Ultimately, approximately 26 separate publications were included in our tables, approximately 61 were excluded because the outcome plainly combined both violent and nonviolent antisocial behaviors in outcome measures, and the remaining studies did not meet the criteria for other reasons.
In this chapter, we included all studies of parental warmth and its association with physical aggression/violence, or with nonviolent-only offending (mainly theft and other property crime; not including drug-only offending). We attempted to include measures of violence or physical aggression with low ambiguity. For example, if a study operationalized a construct they refer to as “externalizing” with the Achenbach checklist, we do not include it because the items of the scale include both physically aggressive and non-physically- aggressive behavior. If the authors operationalized “externalizing,” providing example items that were exclusively physically aggressive, we included the study. Similarly, measures of “serious delinquency” were only selected for inclusion if they were comprised of violent items which might include weapon carrying but must have emphasized physical assault. In some cases, the decision was more of an art than a science because there is substantial variability in the detail provided by the authors. See the appendix for this chapter for a list of studies included in our summary table.