JouinaJ of Family Psychology
2001, Vol. 15, No. 4, 627-645
Copyright 2001 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
Transmission and Transaction: Predicting Adolescents'
Internalization of Parental Religious Values
Douglas L. Flor and Nancy Flanagan Knapp
University of Georgia
Data in this study supported a model of internalization that included both trans-
mission and transactional variables. Two sets of hierarchical linear regression
models were conducted on data collected from the fathers, mothers, and adolescents
(10 to 12 years old) in 171 intact Caucasian families. One set predicted adolescent
religious behavior, the other predicted the importance of religion to child. Trans-
mission variables (parental religious behavior and parental desire for child to be
religious) predicted the most variance in all models. Dyadic discussions of faith
(transactional) predicted significant variance in all models. Child gender had a
direct effect only on adolescent religious behavior. A significant 3-way interaction
occurred between child gender, parental desire for child to be religious, and dyadic
discussions when predicting importance of religion to child, with child and parent
gender dyads interacting in a complex manner.
A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish
son is the heaviness of his mother.
Proverbs 10:1 (American Standard Version)
The question of whether and how parents can
"pass on" their most deeply held values to their
children has been of vital interest to parents
themselves and to society in general from early
Biblical times through today. By virtue of their
roles, parents are the primary socializing agents
for their children. Internalization, the socializa-
tion process by which children come to learn,
value, and acquire the beliefs and behaviors of
their parents, has been empirically studied for
many years from various developmental and
1911; Bandura & Walters, 1959, 1963; De-
Douglas L. Flor, Institute for Behavioral Research,
University of Georgia; Nancy Flanagan Knapp, De-
partment of Educational Psychology, University of
The research reported in this article was supported
by Grant AA09224 from the National Institute on
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Correspondence concerning this article should be
addressed to Douglas L. Flor, who is now at Elec-
tronic Data Systems, 180 Mclntosh Estates Drive,
Sharpsburg, Georgia 30277. Electronic mail may be
sent to email@example.com.
Charms, 1968; Freud, 1957; Janet, 1930;Piaget,
1970; Schafer, 1968; Vygotsky, 1987).
For most of this time, two main groups of
theories have dominated the discussion (Law-
rence & Valsiner, 1993). In the more traditional
cultural transmission model, values are passed
from the parent to the child unidirectionally.
The child is seen as a passive recipient, accept-
ing or not accepting the values transmitted by
parents who are perceived as the active agents
in the internalization process. The alternative
transactional, sometimes called
(Lawrence & Valsiner, 1993), models of
internalization are drawn from more construc-