Study probed attitudes, which research has found predict behaviors
Research has found that parents who spank believe spanking can make children behave or respect them. That belief drives parental behavior, more so than their level of anger, the seriousness of the child's misbehavior or the parent's perceived intent of the child's misbehavior.
Additionally, parents form their opinions based on advice from others they trust, primarily their own parents, their spouse and pediatricians, followed by mental health workers, teachers, parent educators and religious leaders.
Two studies with parents and non-parents both find changed attitudes
In the first SMU study, the subjects were 118 non-parent college students divided into two groups: one that actively processed web-based information about spanking research; and one that passively read web summaries.
The summary consisted of several sentences describing the link between spanking and short- and long-term child behavior problems, including aggressive and delinquent acts, poor quality of parent-child relationships and an increased risk of child physical abuse.
The majority of the participants in the study, 74.6 percent, thought less favorably of spanking after reading the summary. Unexpectedly, the researchers said, attitude change was significant for both active and passive participants.
A second study replicated the first study, but with 263 parent participants, predominantly white mothers. The researchers suspected parents might be more resistant to change their attitudes. Parents already have established disciplinary practices, are more invested in their current practices and have sought advice from trusted individuals.
But the results indicated otherwise. After reading brief research statements on the web, 46.7 percent of the parents
|Contact: Margaret Allen|
Southern Methodist University