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The pattern of psychophysiological and psychological response to acts of parenting


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Adaway, DJ 2010 , 'The pattern of psychophysiological and psychological response to acts of parenting', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The incidence of child abuse is reported to have increased substantially in recent
decades. In response to literature demonstrating an elevated prevalence, researchers have
attempted to elucidate the immediate, short-term and protracted effects of child abuse for
the child. It has been identified that child abuse can produce a range of psychological,
physiological and relational deficits, in both the short and long-term. The outcomes of
punitive parenting have also been explored and found to mirror those of child abuse.
However, despite an expansive body of literature identifying the detrimental impacts of
child abuse and punitive parenting for the child, research has yet to definitively establish
the effects for the enactor of punitive parenting. Specifically, there has been little
research attempting to identify the psychological and psychophysiological responses of
the parent when engaging in such behaviour. An examination of relevant literature
suggests that there is a range of different behaviours, including those of an interpersonal
nature, that are maintained by properties that psychologically and psychophysiologically
reinforce their use. Research has specifically suggested a role for arousal and tension
reduction in the maintenance of aggressive interpersonal behaviours. In light of this
research, it is plausible to assume that emotionally and physically punitive methods of
punishment will similarly have tension reduction properties for the parent. This literature
review will consider the role of tension release as a possible maintaining factor
underlying parents' continued use of punitive parenting methods. It will also explore the
parenting styles within which punitive parenting may be employed, and the disciplinary
strategies which punitive parenting may engender.
The present study examined whether there was a tension release component associated
with the administration of punishment for parents who engaged in emotionally or
physically punitive parenting, as evidenced by a reduction in arousal in the lead up to
and during the application of discipline. A personalised, staged guided imagery
methodology was used to recreate the acts of punishment. The psychophysiological and
psychological responses of physically punitive parents (n = 9) were compared to those of
emotionally punitive parents (n = 10), and parents whose application of discipline was
neither emotionally nor physically punitive (n = 10). Findings indicated that the level of
psychophysiological and psychological arousal experienced by both the experimental
groups and control group was equivalent. All participants exhibited an increase rather
than decrease in arousal in the lead up to and during the provision of punishment.
Potential explanations for these results are considered, including the possibility that the
payoffs for the punishing behaviours of both punitive and non-punitive parents are the
same and are similarly strongly reinforcing. The need for future research to compare the
responses of abusive, punitive parents and non-abusive/punitive parents is highlighted.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Adaway, DJ
Copyright Holders: The Author
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Copyright 2010 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (MPsych(Clin))--University of Tasmania, 2010. Includes bibliographical references

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