ERIC Number: ED332828
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Effects of Tone-of-Voice and Physical Punishment on Children's and Adults' Interpretation of a Brief Disciplinary Prohibition.
Zambarano, Robert J.
This study examines adults' and children's understanding of causal attribution cues in chaotic parent-child interactions. A total of 8 male and 8 female participants at each age of 4, 8, 12, and 18+ years, totaling 64 subjects, watched eight 30-second dramatized videotapes of a mother involved in some household task who discussed an issue with her child who was playing nearby. The parent-child interactions always involved the use of an ambiguous command to the child. Each episode ended with the command "Don't do that, just stop." With this command, changes in parental tone of voice, either angry or calm, and the use of physical punishment, with mother either spanking or not spanking her child, were manipulated to evoke different attributions and thus impart different discipline meanings. Subjects watched the tapes and indicated whether the ambiguous command referred to the mother's topic or to the child's play. As predicted, the manipulated parental behaviors provided clear information to adults. Children were confused, especially by the use of physical punishment. The results imply that parents are likely to mistakenly assume that such meaningful cues as yelling and physical punishment are well understood by their children. This research further demonstrates that parents would do best by speaking to their children clearly and carefully. (RH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (Seattle, WA, April 18-20, 1991).