April/May 2023 Spotlight – Joyce Lin, PhD

What drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? 

My dissertation focused on how cultural norms, values, beliefs, and experiences contribute to caregivers’ physical punishment use. One component of my dissertation focused on the various factors that either promote or discourage physical punishment use in Taiwanese mothers in Taiwan, Taiwanese immigrant mothers in the U.S., and Taiwanese American mothers. I was drawn to this work because of my own experiences and background. Growing up as the child of Taiwanese immigrants, in suburban Orange County, California, I was very aware of my upbringing being different from my mostly White peers. However, in spaces such as my parents’ church, where I saw children who looked like me, I saw a lot of similarities in how we were being raised. These experiences, coupled with a major car accident my family was involved in, led to my interest in the various factors that contribute to parenting differences, family resilience, and variability in child outcomes. 

Although most of my recent work has been focused on my second line of research, which focuses on children’s home learning environments, I’m actually currently in the process of re-analyzing some of my dissertation data. 

Any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in your area? 

One piece of advice that I have for successful recruitment is to definitely connect with cultural organizations in your community and tap into your social networks. From my experience, I found that fellow Taiwanese and Taiwanese Americans were excited and eager to either help with recruitment or actually participate in research focused on the community.

A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it.  Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other [understudied?] populations; d) practice or policy relevance. 

Findings from the study I referred to earlier revealed that the conditions related to physical punishment use and rejection ranged from distal to proximal, and these independently and interactively influenced mothers’ choices to use physical punishment or not. Some conditions were associated with the use of physical punishment, such as holding traditional gender beliefs, believing in filial piety and familism, having experienced physical punishment, receiving support from others for physical punishment, experiencing physical punishment as being effective for one’s child, and having a male child. However, other conditions were associated with the rejection of physical punishment, including believing in saving face or the stereotype that physical punishment is illegal in the U.S., having personally experienced physical punishment as negative, having experienced nonphysical discipline/punishment, experiencing physical punishment of one’s child as ineffective, and experiencing regret from physical punishment use. These findings are exciting because they focus on an understudied population that I am a part of. Additionally, findings emphasized the complexity of caregivers’ decisions to use or reject physical punishment, underscoring both maternal experiences and cultural contributions, and highlighting areas that researchers and interventionists may further explore to reduce the use of physical punishment.

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