The valence effect of spanking is a controversial subject as the views of some parents and scholars collide. Most of the parents raised in homes that permitted spanking believe that spanking elicits a positive behavior change in children, which stems from their conventional wisdom. As a result, they embrace and continue with the trend. However, scholars perceive otherwise (Gershoff et al.). This paper seeks to critique the prediction by Gershoff et al., which states that “the hypothesized causal pathway (spanking is harmful to children) is plausible and coherent with existing facts about spanking and its harmful effects” (627).
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Authors’ Reasons for the Assumption
To better understand the root of the hypothesis, it is essential to first understand the meaning of technical terms presented, plausibility and coherence. The term “plausibility,” as used in this context, refers to reasonability. Spanking is only considered reasonable if it is helpful to the child; that is, it elicits a positive behavior change. On the other hand, “coherence” refers to consistency, which is whether the cause-and-effect of spanking evaluated in research shows a character with that of conventional wisdom.
Gershoff et al. begin by acknowledging that spanking indeed results in the change of behavior in a child. However, less is known about the nature of the change, whether positive or negative. As a result, the authors predict that spanking has a resultant harmful effect on the child, on which they support their hypothesis with several reasons. Overall, these reasons presented were obtained from the analysis of several scholarly articles; hence, guaranteeing their credibility. The first reason for the assumption was that their hypothesis should not be dismissed simply because it is incoherent with conventional wisdom.
Parents have their definition and specific belief of effective parenting, which is guided by their cultural histories of physical punishment (Gershoff 628). Their past and culture emphasize the importance of spanking that arguably yields positive changes. Nevertheless, Gershoff et al. evidences the gaps and elicits doubts in their conviction by referring to a study by Hill, which delineates the thin line between research and conventional wisdom (628).
Gershoff et al. further narrow down to defend their hypothesis by presenting previous research that had been conducted and proven their hypothesis. The results of these studies found out that spanking, as a form of physical punishment, is associated with more problematic behavior in children (628). Moreover, these studies consisted of decades of correlational research, therefore, suggesting that the harmful nature of spanking is concrete and has not changed and will not change over time.
Finally, Gershoff et al. support their hypothesis by comparing spanking to other forms of beating (628). There is no lesser pain when comparing different forms of beating, and society should be consistent with their viewpoints (628).
They mirror this statement by illustrating the similarity in the outcomes of spanking with other socially perceived “extreme and emotionally adverse” forms of hitting, such as bullying and violence between romantic partners in adults. Partner battery and bullying are treated by society as critical cases, and they mainly occur among teenagers and adults. Therefore, by equalizing them to spanking a child, Gershoff et al. manage to outline the grievous nature of the act.
Gershoff et al. have successfully managed to support their hypothesis, which is that spanking, as a form of physical punishment, is associated with detrimental outcomes in children. To illustrate the magnitude of its adverse effects, spanking has been considered to be similar to other forms of physical abuse, such as bullying and violence among romantic partners in adults. Therefore, the parents must stop refuting the detrimental effects of spanking only because it collides with their shared knowledge.
Gershoff, Elizabeth, et al. “The Strength of the Causal Evidence against Physical Punishment of Children and Its Implications for Parents, Psychologists, and Policymakers.” American Psychologist, vol. 73, no. 5, 2018, pp. 626-637. Web.