Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

James F. Paulson (Director)

Committee Member

Valerian Derlega

Committee Member

Michelle L. Kelley

Committee Member

Thomas J. Socha


The high prevalence and negative consequences of hash parenting among US parents is well-documented. However, intervention and prevention efforts aimed at reducing the rates of harsh parenting have had limited success. A goal of this paper was to provide a novel method of studying parenting behavior; moving beyond correlational findings. Specifically, I argued that preventing harsh parenting has been a challenge, in part because of lack of understanding of the decision-making processes underlying the behavior. In an effort to incorporate tradition decision making methodology, I designed a between subjects, single-blind, randomized experiment. The experimental manipulations were design to induced emotional and cognitive stress, mimicking the parenting experiences immediately prior to discipline decision making of new parents. Findings reviled that although the harshness of preferred discipline strategy for participants who were new to parenting was mostly impacted by distal factors (e.g., age, race, traditional beliefs about parenting); negative affect inducing conditions had an effect on their increase in preference for harsh parenting. Specific individual differences in the effect of cognitive-emotional strain are described. Methodological implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.


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