Social Science

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To determine how brief interventions that include either empirical research evidence about spanking, alternative biblical interpretations related to spanking, or both, affect college students’ attitudes and intentions about spanking. A sample of 129 college students (70% female; 30% male; Mage = 19) attending a private, Christian, liberal arts, university were randomly assigned to one of three intervention conditions: 1) Research Only, 2) Religion Only, or Research and Religion. Four weeks prior to the intervention sessions, students completed a Demographic Form, the Religious Fundamentalism Scale, and the Attitudes Toward Spanking (ATS) scale. Following the intervention, students completed the ATS scale a second time. A two-way ANOVA indicated a significant main effect for the intervention condition and an interaction effect between intervention condition and religious fundamentalism, indicating that ATS change scores were impacted most significantly by the Research and Religion intervention condition (F (2, 123)=4.05, p=.02) with ATS scores demonstrating the greatest change within the Religious Fundamentalism Group in that condition (F (2, 123)=4.50, p=.01). A second two-way ANOVA indicated a significant main effect for conservative Protestantism (F (2, 123) =4.39, p=.04) but not for conservative Protestantism and their interaction. A brief intervention focusing on both empirical research on the effects of spanking as well as alternative biblical interpretations to scripture can reduce positive attitudes toward, and intentions to use, spanking. This study has implications for decreasing spanking use among Conservative Christians and for the development of training programs to reduce parents’ use of spanking as a disciplinary strategy.

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International Journal of Behavioral Development