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Memories of Punishment for Cursing

Abstract

Researchers do not know how parents respond to children’s cursing or what effect parents’ responses have on children later in life. We conducted two studies with college students: a content analysis of 47 personal narratives of childhood cursing and an item analysis of a 70-item questionnaire administered to 211 students. Contrary to gender differences found in previous narrative and cursing research, men’s narratives were as emotional as women’s narratives, and women used as many curse words as men. The two studies confirm that cursing is a common childhood problem and that mothers play a more prominent disciplinary role than fathers do. Parents respond with physical forms of punishment (e.g., spanking) but not as frequently as verbal reprimands. Our data are the first to document the prevalence of washing children’s mouths with soap. College students have vivid memories of punishment; however 94% reported that they continue to curse.

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Correspondence to Timothy Jay.

Appendices

Appendix I

Table 1 Narrative Score Sheet

Appendix II

Table 2 Questionnaire

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Jay, T., King, K. & Duncan, T. Memories of Punishment for Cursing. Sex Roles 55, 123–133 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-006-9064-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-006-9064-5

Keywords

  • Gender differences
  • Child discipline
  • Cursing
  • Punishment
  • Memory
  • Parenting
  • Narrative