Parental misperceptions of ingroup norms for child discipline

Gary Ganz, Fergus Gilmour Neville*, Reshma Kassanjee, Catherine Ward

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)
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    The influence of perceived social norms on behaviour has been studied in a variety of domains. However, little research has examined their application to child discipline. This study explored social norms perceptions and their associations with parental discipline in greater Cape Town, South Africa. A cross‐sectional study of 195 mothers (using convenience sampling) from two Early Childhood Development centres examined self‐reported violent and non‐violent parenting behaviour, and perceived descriptive (usual behaviour in a group) and injunctive (appraisal of such behaviour) group norms. Parents overestimated the prevalence of violent parenting. Perceived descriptive norms of violent parenting were associated with self‐reported violent parenting behaviour; and perceived descriptive norms of non‐violent parenting were associated with self‐reported non‐violent parenting behaviour. Estimation of support for violent and for non‐violent parenting differed by centre, as did the relationship between perceived injunctive norms of non‐violent parenting and self‐reported non‐violent parenting behaviour. We also found significant effects of social identification, parent educational attainment and parent‐reported child misbehaviour. Parents' perceptions of group norms of parental discipline may be mistaken yet influence their own behaviour, providing the potential basis for violence prevention interventions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)628-644
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
    Issue number6
    Early online date27 May 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


    • Social norms
    • Child discipline
    • Parenting
    • Norms perception


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