Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 652–663 | Cite as

Parents’ Primary Professional Sources of Parenting Advice Moderate Predictors of Parental Attitudes toward Corporal Punishment

  • Catherine A. TaylorEmail author
  • Sarah McKasson
  • Guenevere Hoy
  • William DeJong
Original Paper


Despite the risk it poses to children’s mental and physical health, approval and use of corporal punishment (CP) remains high in the United States. Informed by the Theory of Planned Behavior, we examined potential predictors of attitudes supportive of CP while assessing the moderating effects of parents’ (N = 500) chosen primary professional source of advice regarding child discipline: pediatricians (47.8 %), religious leaders (20.8 %), mental health professionals (MHPs) (n = 18.4 %), or other identified professionals (13.0 %). We conducted a random-digit-dial telephone survey among parents ages 18 and over within New Orleans, LA. The main outcome measure was derived from the Attitudes Toward Spanking scale (ATS). The main “predictors” were: perceived injunctive norms (i.e., perceived approval of CP by professionals; and by family and friends), perceived descriptive norms of family and friends regarding CP, and expected outcomes of CP use. We used multivariate OLS models to regress ATS scores on the predictor variables for each subset of parents based on their chosen professional source of advice. Perceived approval of CP by professionals was the strongest predictor of parental attitudes supportive of CP, except for those seeking advice from MHPs. Perceived injunctive and descriptive norms of family and friends were important, but only for those seeking advice from pediatricians or religious leaders. Positive expected outcomes of CP mattered, but only for those seeking advice from religious leaders or MHPs. In conclusion, the strength and relevance of variables predicting attitudes toward CP varied according to the professional from which the parent was most likely to seek advice.


Corporal punishment Professionals Advice Attitudes Social norms 



The authors thank Ana Bales, MPH and Carey Devine for their assistance with this project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine A. Taylor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah McKasson
    • 1
  • Guenevere Hoy
    • 1
  • William DeJong
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral SciencesTulane University School of Public Health and Tropical MedicineNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Department of Community Health SciencesBoston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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