Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 1105–1115 | Cite as

Preliminary Support for the Theory of Planned Behavior in Pre-Parent Discipline Intentions

  • Tabitha C. FlemingEmail author
  • Joaquín BorregoJr.
Original Paper



Aggressive discipline is associated with a host of negative outcomes for children, while instilling positive discipline is a point of intervention in parent-child dyads. These practices may arise from the intergenerational transmission of parenting beliefs and subsequent practices. Specifically, this transmission involves individuals adopting accepting views of their disciplinary experiences, whether they were positive or negative. Although many studies of this phenomenon focus on current parents, research supports that these beliefs are evident prior to parenthood. The aim of this study was to investigate whether discipline acceptability affects the relationship between discipline experiences and the likelihood of using discipline strategies in the future in pre-parent undergraduate students.


This pathway was assessed with a nonparametric bootstrapping procedure in the domains of both positive and aggressive discipline strategies. Participants (N  = 171, ages 17–26 years) completed the Dimensions of Discipline Inventory – Adult Recall and other measures online via a Qualtrics survey.


The results demonstrated that discipline experiences may affect discipline intent indirectly through discipline acceptability for both positive and aggressive discipline strategies.


This provides preliminary support of the Theory of Planned Behavior as applied to parental constructs prior to parenthood. This also informs the theory of intergenerational transmission and may suggest targets of negative parenting prevention to research in pre-parent populations.


Discipline experiences Discipline attitudes Discipline intentions Pre-parents Intergenerational transmission of parenting 


Author Contributions

TCF: designed and executed the study, completed data analyses, and wrote the manuscript. JPB: collaborated with the design and writing of the manuscript, including edits of the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Texas Tech University Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.MS 2051 Department of Psychological SciencesTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA

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