General background There is a long history of research into parental discipline, particularly maternal discipline. Generally, the research has had two foci of attention: (a) the techniques used by the parents; and (b) the consequences of the disciplinary techniques. If one compares work carried out mainly in the 1940s and 1950s with some of the more recent work, there are apparent, as Hess has pointed out, two important differences in emphasis and orientation (Hess et al., 1968).