The Role of Parental Religious Fundamentalism and Right-Wing Authoritarianism in Child-Rearing Goals and Practices

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Two studies assessed how people's religious orientation and their endorsement of right-wing authoritarian attitudes are linked to the kinds of goals they establish for their children, and their approval of corporal punishment. In Study 1, a survey of 204 undergraduate students revealed that their religious fundamentalism was linked indirectly to greater emphasis on obedience in a hypothetical child-rearing situation through the desire to keep their children in their religious faith; and to greater approval of corporal punishment through greater valuation of obedience. In Study 2, 83 mothers and 71 fathers of university students responded to a questionnaire designed to examine the hypotheses that while parents' religious fundamentalism would be negatively related to their endorsement of child autonomy, it would be positively linked to stronger desires to keep children in their religious faith, to greater emphasis on obedience and to greater approval of corporal punishment in child-rearing. Also, it was expected that parents' right-wing authoritarian attitudes would be linked to their fundamentalist religious orientation, as well as to greater emphasis on obedience and approval of corporal punishment. Results from the zero-order correlations were in keeping with the hypotheses. However, a mediation (regression) analysis indicated that parents' right-wing authoritarianism was a better predictor of their child-rearing attitudes than was religious fundamentalism. Fundamentalism, however, proved important in predicting parents' goal of socializing their children to accept their religious faith.


Originally published as: Danso, H., Hunsberger, B., & Pratt, M. (1997). The role of parental religious fundamentalism and right-wing authoritarianism in child-rearing goals and practices. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 36(4), 496. https://doi.org/10.2307/1387686