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Research Findings Can Change Attitudes About Corporal Punishment

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2014 Pages: 902-908
George W. Holden; Alan S. Brown; Austin S. Baldwin; Kathryn Croft Caderao
Date Published
May 2014
7 pages
The findings and methodologies are presented from two random-assignment studies that tested whether adults' positive attitudes toward the corporal punishment (CP) of children could be changed by informing participants about research findings on children's problem behaviors that stem from CP.
The two studies indicate that brief exposure to research findings on the adverse effects of CP on a child's behavior can reduce positive attitudes toward CP in both parents and non-parents. In both studies, the effect sizes were in the small to medium range. In the first study, the effect size for changes in attitude was .40 and for intention to spank was .37. In the second study, the effect size for attitude change was .40. Thus, the efforts to change positive attitudes toward CP were not uniformly effective. It will not change the attitudes of individuals who have closed their minds to opposing views, particularly if they have little confidence in or respect for psychological research. Using a sample of 118 non-parent adults, the first study tested whether an active reading condition would result in more attitude change than a passive condition. Using a sample of 520 parents and a control group, the second study used the same method as the first study in imparting research information through active reading, with the control group receiving no new information on the effects of CP on children's behavior. The authors conclude that when people are informed about the potential negative effects of CP on children, many will modify their positive views of CP. Implications are drawn for child maltreatment prevention programs. 2 tables and 36 references