Boy did my grandmother know precisely which foliage could get her point across and quick! As I think back, I can still feel the sting from the branch of the weeping willow tree those times she had to impart her point on me, the backs of my legs to be exact. My cousins and I always referred to the tears that followed as willow weeping. Was this detrimental to me? No, I don’t think so. In fact, I believe willow weeping played a huge role in making me the person I am today; and I turned out just fine! To say though, that spanking as a form of behavior modification is without negative repercussions would not be accurate either. There is research that indicates spanking, particularly in excess, can lead to aggression and other adverse effects. To spank, or not to spank? It continues to be a question that evokes much controversy, with proponents on both sides of the fence swearing their practice is proven to be the best. Equally as diverse as these opinions, there are also different theories of learning to take into account when questioning the effectiveness or inability of spanking in order to produce desirable behavior. These theories include classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning. By examining these theories, we can gain perspective, weigh out the pros and cons, and hopefully answer, for ourselves at least, this controversial question.
It was Ivan Pavlov that introduced us to classical conditioning, a learning process that involves pairing a conditioned stimulus (CS), like the sounding of a bell, with an unconditioned response (UCR), like salivation when given food, or the iris of an eye getting smaller when exposed to stronger light. Repeatedly ring a bell just when you give food to a hungry dog, and over time, the dog will salivate when you ring the bell. Classical conditioning has to do with reflexive, involuntary behavior. That being said, can the...