Intergenerational Effect Hypothesis Statement


The intergenerational transmission (IGT) of violence has been a main theoretical consideration to explain the link between interparental aggression in the family of origin and intimate partner violence (IPV) in subsequent intimate relationships. Studies have examined this theoretical link based on self-reports of interparental violence witnessed during childhood and adolescence. However, no study has examined whether emerging adults who currently witness interparental violence are more likely to exhibit violence in their own intimate relationships. Data were analyzed from undergraduate students (N = 223) attending an ethnically diverse Southern California university. Multivariate linear regression analyses were used to examine the impact of witnessing interparental violence on the physical and psychological IPV experienced in emerging adult relationships. The joint effects of witnessing both forms of interparental violence were also tested. Support for the intergenerational transmission of violence was identified for specific types of violence. Future directions of study and implications for prevention and treatment are offered.

Keywords: intimate partner violence, interparental violence, social cognitive theory, intergenerational transmission, emerging adulthood


The etiology, prevention, and treatment of intimate partner violence (IPV) have been examined for more than three decades. However, a need for further empirical study of IPV was recognized as urgent a decade ago (Bell et al., 1996; Fischbach & Herbert, 1997) and has more recently developed attention as a major public health problem (Coker et al., 2002). This is likely due to its extensive scope, closeted nature, and its damaging impact on the family unit and social system. IPV is a repeated pattern of physical, psychological, and/or sexual abuse against an intimate partner to gain control or compliance over a victim through fear tactics (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2006; Warshaw & Ganley, 1998) and occurs in both adolescent and adult relationships. Reasons given by both genders for using aggression against a partner include an inability to express oneself verbally, anger and tension release, a desire to feel powerful, to gain control, to prove love, and to get attention (Hamberger, Lohr, Bonge, & Tolin, 1997; Harned, 2001).

Annually, 4.8 million women are victims of intimate partner–related physical assaults and rapes, and 2.9 million men experience intimate partner physical assaults (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). Although past studies often focus on measuring physical IPV and its consequences, psychological abuse has also been found to share similar characteristics of physical violence. Research has demonstrated that psychological abuse (i.e., violence that directly impairs the victim’s psychological health such as insults, threats, and destruction of property) appears to have as great, if not greater, negative impact on victims than does physical violence (O’Leary, 1999). Coker et al. (2002) found that among those ever experiencing physical IPV, 88% also experienced psychological violence. Moreover, among those ever experiencing IPV, 25% solely experienced psychological violence. Perpetrators of violence include a spouse, ex-spouse, or current or former boyfriend/girlfriend, and IPV occurs in both heterosexual and same-sex couples. Both genders are victims of physical and psychological IPV, but women are more likely than men to suffer physical injuries from IPV (Brush, 1990; Rand, 1997; Rennison & Welchans, 2000). For example, Anderson (2002) found that 10% of all couples reported some type of mutual violence in the last year, and for 2% of the couples only the woman was violent, and for 1%, only the man was violent (a meta-analysis by Archer, 2000, supports these findings). Both physical and psychological IPV have been associated with detrimental mental and physical health consequences (Campbell et al., 2002; Coker et al., 2000), problems with accessing health care (Eisenman, Cunningham, Zierler, Nakazono, & Shapiro, 2003), and increased sexual risk, notably HIV transmission.

Intergenerational Model of Violence

Langhinrichsen-Rohling (2005) highlighted the top 10 most important research findings and future directions in the IPV field to date, and contained within this list was furthering the understanding of the intergenerational transmission (IGT) of violence. Due to the theoretical importance of the IGT of violence, witnessing interparental violence in the family of origin has pervaded the research literature to explain the etiology of IPV (Egeland, 1993; Hotaling & Sugarman, 1986). The concept, IGT of violence (Kalmuss, 1984), found much of its theoretical impetus from early studies examining aggression used by children that shed light on violence as a socially learned behavior (Bandura, 1971, 1973, 1986), and illustrates the link between a history of witnessed interparental violence and violence enacted in subsequent generations of children. Through social learning processes such as observational learning, violence is used as a habitual response to conflict with intimate partners through channels of learned behavior (Bandura, 1986; Widom, 1989). This social learning model depicting a guide for IPV behaviors is argued persuasively in the literature (Bandura, 1971; O’Leary, 1988).

Because the family is a main socializing institution and the main source of childhood learning, aggression modeled between parents not only provides scripts for violent behaviors but also teaches the appropriateness and consequences of such behavior in an intimate relationship to children through direct and vicarious reinforcement of rewards and punishments (Bandura, 1973). Considering this, modeled behavior is more likely to be adopted if the behavior is perceived to result in advantageous outcomes with few negative consequences. Interestingly, observed outcomes influence behavior in much the same way as do directly experienced consequences (Bandura, 1971). Thus observers may regulate their violent behavior based on the success and mistakes of others. If children observe more functionally positive than negative consequences of interparental violence, positive outcome expectations for using the behavior are cognitively developed. For example, children may learn that violence is an effective means of conflict resolution with intimate partners (Ehrensaft et al., 2003) or a means of gaining control. In addition, children with violent parents may not have the opportunity to socially learn the positive consequences of methods such as negotiation, verbal reasoning, self-calming tactics, and active listening (Foshee, Bauman, & Linder, 1999) that are conducive to effective communication and conflict resolution.

Empirical Evidence of Transmission

Evidence supporting the IGT of violence theory has been accumulated for married couples as well as dating relationships for both adolescents and emerging adults (Ballif-Spanvill et al., 2007; Breslin, Riggs, O’Leary, & Arias, 1990; Carr & VanDeusen, 2002; Craig & Sprang, 2007; Dubow, Huesmann, & Boxer, 2003; Ehrensaft et al., 2003; Foshee et al., 1999; Kwong, Bartholomew, Henderson, & Trinke, 2003; Stith et al., 2000; Whit-field, Anda, Dube, & Felitti, 2003; Yexley, Borowsky, & Ireland, 2002). For example, large-scale studies have reported clear evidence of an IGT of marital aggression (Doumas, Margolin, & John, 1994; Pagelow, 1981; Straus & Gelles, 1986Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980). Considering adolescents, between 7% and 15% of youths have experienced serious physical victimization by an intimate partner (Avery-Leaf, Cascardi, O’Leary, & Cano, 1997; Bergman, 1992; Coker et al., 2000; Silverman, Raj, Mucci, & Hathaway, 2001), and social learning of violence has been supported in varying degrees for this cohort (O’Keeffe, Brockopp, & Chew, 1986; Schwartz, O’Leary, & Kendziora, 1997). For instance, Foshee et al.’s (1999) findings support this theory whereby 21% of female perpetration and 15% of male perpetration was accounted for by social learning theory–mediating variables such as aggressive conflict-response style, expecting positive outcomes, and accepting dating violence. However, several null findings have been reported between witnessing interparental violence and subsequent dating violence (Capaldi & Clark, 1998; Carlson, 1990; Hotaling & Sugarman, 1990; MacEwen & Barling, 1988; Simons, Lin, & Gordon, 1998), leading to the conclusion that the majority of children experiencing violence in their homes do not grow up to be violent adults (Kaufman & Zigler, 1987). In addition, some studies have found an association only for males but not for females (e.g., O’Leary, Malone, & Tyree, 1994). This has led some researchers to suggest that main effects may vary within subgroups (Foshee, Ennett, Bauman, Benefield, & Suchindran, 2005) or that methodological and measurement inconsistencies exist in previous research.

The prevalence of college-age students witnessing serious interparental physical violence while growing up typically ranges from 10% to 30% (Edleson, 1999; Jankowski, Leitenberg, Henning, & Coffey, 1999). Similarly, college students report rates at 20%–50% for experiencing physical abuse in their own current intimate relationships (Arias, Samios, & O’Leary, 1987; Avery-Leaf et al., 1997; Fiebert & Gonzalez, 1997; Jankowski et al., 1999; Neufeld, McNamara, & Ertl, 1999; Riggs & O’Leary, 1996). Although psychological violence has gained less empirical attention, one study (Lane & Gwartney-Gibbs, 1985) suggested that psychological aggression might occur in up to 80% of young adult dating relationships. These high rates were supported in a sample of undergraduate students, whereby Riggs & O’Leary (1996) found that at any time in their relationship only 7% of men and 3% of women reported that they had not engaged in any verbal/psychological aggression within any intimate relationship.

Regarding socially learned behavior, White and Koss (1991) surveyed 4,700 college students and found that a history of childhood exposure to violence prior to the age of 18 was positively associated with the perpetration of dating violence by both genders. Similarly, Kwong et al. (2003) found that witnessing interparental violence was associated with a greater likelihood of both violence perpetration and victimization in young adult relationships. A longitudinal study following youths from 1983 to 1993 presented findings consistent with a social learning model of partner violence (Ehrensaft et al., 2003). In this study, child abuse did not remain statistically significant in the prediction of being a victim of IPV after adjusting for witnessing interparental violence. Thus the authors concluded that exposure to observed violence between parents posed the greatest independent risk for being the victim of any act of IPV.

Study Aims

When synthesized, the empirical research suggests that witnessing interparental violence in childhood and early adolescence is associated with later experiences of IPV in teenage years, emerging adulthood (EA; a distinct developmental stage from around ages 18 to 25 characterized by self-exploration and independence; Arnett, 2000), and adulthood. Moreover, the literature has well established the IGT of violence as at least one process by which violence is learned during childhood and experienced in later intimate relationships. All identified studies have used respondent recall of witnessing interparental violence in childhood and adolescent years to investigate the intergenerational violence link (e.g., Ehrensaft et al., 2003; Kwong et al., 2003; Reitzel-Jaffe & Wolfe, 2001; Taft et al., 2006). No study identified to date has examined the influence of witnessing inter-parental violence during the emerging adulthood developmental stage. It is possible that parents continue or begin to model violent behaviors when their children are of emerging adult age. For example, parents may become more willing to reveal IPV to their children when they are emerging adults. Also, it is possible that children become more acute at picking up on more subtle forms of psychological IPV when they’re older (i.e., subtle put-downs that younger children might miss). Moreover, because both interparental psychological and physical violence have been associated with IPV risk in their grown children in prior research, there is the potential for synergistic effects. That is, observing both forms of violence from parents may increase the likelihood of a violent emerging adult relationship. Thus, we examined the singular and joint effects of parental violence to test for possible synergistic effects on emerging adult relationship violence. First, this article seeks to identify the percentage of psychological and physical IPV reported in emerging adulthood and the percentage of emerging adults that witness interparental psychological and physical violence within the past year. Second, the study aims to further the understanding of IPV in the emerging adult stage and the role of parental modeling of violence. The following hypotheses have been developed for this study:

  • Hypothesis 1 Observing either psychological or physical interparental aggression will positively relate to both psychological and physical IPV experienced within EA relationships. Specifically, interparental psychological violence will more strongly associate with EA psychological violence and interparental physical violence will more strongly associate with EA physical violence.
  • Hypothesis 2 Emerging adults who witness both physical and psychological interparental violence will be more likely to experience violence within their own intimate relationships than those who experiencing a single type of interparental violence alone.


Participants and Procedures

Self-report questionnaires were hand-administered to 292 undergraduate students during regular class periods at a large urban university in Southern California that met the inclusion criteria of being between 18 and 27 years of age. Classes were randomly selected from a master list, which clustered classes by department using random number tables to gain a representative sample of the undergraduate student population attending the university. All study protocols were institutional review board (IRB) approved and participation was voluntary and responses were anonymous. Participant information sheets were provided to students, which included an explanation of the study as well as the researcher’s contact information. Data collection spanned from December 2005 to February 2006. As recommended by Stith et al. (2000), descriptive statistics for measures of relationship violence are provided in Table 1 for future meta-analyses and include the available sample size, mean, standard deviation, and Cronbach’s alpha.

Table 1

Descriptive Statistics of Respondent Reports on Conflict Tactics Scalea Measures


EA intimate partner violence

A 20-item short form of the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS2; Straus, Hamby, Boney-McCoy, & Sugarman, 1996), considered one of the most widely used tools in violence research, was used. Evidence for reliability and validity across ethnic groups and gender is prevalent (Cronbach’s alpha: physical = .86, psychological = .79; Stith et al., 2000; Straus & Douglas, 2004). The measure asks respondents to recall the number of acts of violence within an intimate relationship for the previous 12-month period. The instrument has eight response categories: 0 = has never happened, 1 = once in the past year, 2 = twice in the past year, 3 = 3–5 times, 4 = 6–10 times, 5 = 11–20 times, 6 = more than 20 times in the past year, 7 = happened more than one year ago. Our study examined both physical and psychological violence perpetrated and experienced within respondent relationships (e.g., psychological violence: I insulted, or swore, or shouted, or yelled at my partner; I called my partner fat, ugly, or used other names to offend my partner; physical violence: I pushed, shoved, or slapped my partner; I punched, kicked, or beat up my partner).

Interparental violence

Respondents completed the same 20-item CTS2 questionnaire for observed parental physical and psychological aggression witnessed between parents in the past 12-month period. (e.g., psychological violence: My mother figure insulted, or swore, or shouted, or yelled at her partner; physical violence: My mother figure pushed, shoved, or slapped her partner). The same questions were asked referring to the respondent’s father figure perpetration of the violent act toward the respondent’s mother figure. Internal consistency reliability remained adequate for respondent self-reports of witnessed interparental violence (see Table 1).

Demographic variables

Demographic variables were measured and controlled for in our analyses including ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and age (in years). SES was measured by a proxy of parent education that was the highest grade level completed by either the father or mother ranging from 0 (less than high school education) to 4 (graduate degree).


Statistical analyses were conducted using SAS 9.1 software (SAS Institute Inc., 2006). All respondents with complete data were included in the analyses (N = 223; 76% of original sample). A missing data analysis found no significant differences between missing and included respondents on any variables included in the regression models. Descriptive statistics were obtained to describe the nature of the demographic variables and model covariates. Correlations between independent and dependent variables were examined to determine cross-sectional bivariate relationships. Regression analyses using Proc GLM were conducted, controlling for demographic covariates. Potential outliers were examined using Cook’s D criteria (CD > 1) and only two outliers were identified. However, these outliers did not change coefficient estimates or correct distribution skewness so these respondents were retained in the models to maintain sample size. The underlying assumptions of linear regression were tested using log-transformed data for annual frequency of violence measures. Sufficiency in linearity, homoscedasticity, and normality was determined by plotting residuals against predicted values and by examining the distribution of residuals. Within the multivariate models, White ethnicity was used as a reference group because it had the largest frequency of respondents, and because minority ethnic groups tend to have higher rates of IPV victimization than Whites (Rennison & Welchans, 2000). The two variables witnessing physical interparental violence and witnessing psychological interparental violence were multiplied together to create an interaction term to determine their joint effect on the dependent variable. All interactions variables measured on the continuous level were centering on their respective means before including them in the model (Aiken & West, 1991). A post hoc power analysis was conducted using Gpower 3 to determine if the study had sufficient power to identify a significant interaction effect (Faul, Erdfelder, Lang, & Buchner, 2007).

Annual prevalence and annual frequency scores were obtained from the respondent raw data as indicated by Straus (2004). The annual prevalence score indicates whether one or more acts of violence were used during the referent period. A score of 1 indicates that one or more acts of violence occurred in the past year and a score of 0 indicates no act of violence was experienced in the respondent’s relationship in the past year. The annual frequency score refers to the total acts of violence experienced in the respondent’s relationship in the past 1 year. The annual frequency score was created by setting midpoints for each response category (e.g., 7 to be 0, 1 to be 1, 2 to be 2, and 3 through 6 to be midpoints as follows: 3 to be 4, 4 to be 8, 5 to be 15, 6 to be 25; see CTS2 scale in Measures section). The item midpoints were then summed and the measure provides the assumed number of violent acts occurring during the past year. In the multivariate analyses, a log transformation was applied to annual frequencies of violence to improve positively skewed distributions.


Descriptive statistics for responses to the CTS measures are provided in Table 1. Means are provided for annual frequency of violence for psychological and physical violence witnessed by respondents and also experienced by respondents in their own relationships. Internal consistency reliability estimates are provided for each item set.

Descriptive statistics are presented in Table 2. The majority of respondents (58.3%) witnessed interparental psychological violence and experienced psychological violence within their own intimate relationships (69.5%). Reported by respondents, physical violence was also witnessed between parents (17.5%) and experienced within their own intimate relationship (27%). SES was inversely associated with EA psychological violence (r = −.23), but no association was found between EA physical violence and SES. Significant Spearman rank order correlations exist between witnessing interparental psychological aggression and experiencing psychological aggression in emerging adulthood (r = .21). Significant correlations also existed between witnessing interparental physical violence and both physical (r = .21) and psychological (r = .14) violence experience in EA relationships. A positive correlation existed between psychological and physical violence reported in EA relationships (r = .46).

Table 2

Characteristics of Study Sample and Bivariate Correlations

Table 3 provides the multivariate linear regression results examining the relationship between witnessing interparental violence and violence experienced in EA dating relationships. A test for an interaction effect between witnessing both forms of parental violence was found to be nonsignificant for both types of EA violence and the interaction term was removed from each model. After controlling for demographic covariates and physical violence there was a significant association between interparental and EA psychological violence (B = .19, SE = .07, p − .01). Including the same model covariates, but controlling for interparental psychological violence, interparental physical violence was significantly associated with EA physical violence (B = .30, SE = .08, p − .01).

Table 3

Multivariate Linear Regression With Emerging Adult IPV Outcomes (N = 223)


This study furthers the IPV literature by (a) identifying the percentage of emerging adults who witness two types of interparental violence, (b) supporting the research literature regarding the high rates of IPV experienced by emerging adults, (c) measuring percentages of both psychological and physical IPV in emerging adult intimate relationships, and (d) examining the association between witnessing interparental violence during the emerging adulthood stage and violence enacted in those emerging adults’ dating relationships. Initially the study identified that observing interparental violence in the emerging adulthood stage is a prevalent occurrence in which more than 58% of the sample observed psychological and more than 17% observed physical interparental violence in the past year. These percentages are somewhat higher than previous studies in which college-age students witnessing interparental violence while growing up typically range from 10% to 30% (Edleson, 1999; Jankowski et al., 1999; Sappington, Pharr, Tunstall, & Rickert, 1997). This may suggest that recall bias is less influential spanning a 1-year period as compared to recalling violence in childhood and adolescence. Perhaps, it may also indicate that parents attempt to hide their spousal violence during their child’s youth and become more open about violence while their child is of emerging adult age.

This study also draws attention to the extent of violence experienced in emerging adult relationships. Almost 70% of the sample experienced some form of psychological violence in the past year, and 27% of the sample reported physical violence present in their intimate relationships in the past year. The prevalence of violence found in the current study is similar, but somewhat higher to previous studies examining IPV, which found IPV rates reported from college students ranging from 20% to 50% in intimate relationships (Avery-Leaf et al., 1997; Fiebert & Gonzalez, 1997; Foo & Margolin, 1995; Jankowski et al., 1999).

According to Kalmuss (1984), the IGT of family violence involves two types of modeling. First, generalized modeling occurs when childhood family aggression communicates the acceptability of aggression between family members and thus increases the likelihood of any form of family aggression in the next generation. This type of modeling does not necessarily involve a direct relationship between the types of aggression in first- and second-generation families. However, the second type, specific modeling, occurs when individuals reproduce the particular types of family aggression to which they were exposed.

The findings in this study provide partial support for our hypotheses regarding the IGT of violence. The proposed direction of our first hypothesis was supported in that similar forms of parent and emerging adult violence (e.g., interparental physical, EA physical) were more strongly correlated than different forms of violence (e.g., interparental physical, EA psychological). However, these significant bivariate correlations between witnessed interparental violence and EA IPV ranged from .14 to .21, which indicate small effect sizes (R2 ranged from .02 to .04). In addition, the significant correlation between EA physical and psychological IPV self-reports (r = .46) was comparable to previous studies that indicate correlations between these variables range from .33–.71 in adult samples (Reitzel-Jaffe & Wolfe, 2001, Straus et al., 1996).

The multivariate analyses in this study suggest that there is a significant association between interparental modeling of violence and the IPV experienced by witnessing children who are of emerging adult age. Particularly of interest in this study, evidence for specific modeling of violence was found. Although both forms of interparental violence witnessed by emerging adults were significantly associated with same-type violence in emerging adult relationships, a small amount of variance in IPV was explained (model R2 ranged from .12 to .14). These findings are consistent with a recent meta-analysis by Stith et al. (2000) who reported a weak-to-moderate relationship between exposure to interparental violence and later IPV (mean effect size in community adult samples is .11). Thus, the specific type modeling associations found in this study may suggest moderate support for the IGT of violence because associations between violence observed between parents and the violence experienced in emerging adult relationships were only significant for the same form of violence used. Moreover, specific modeling was further supported in our study because a significant interaction effect of violence was not identified for emerging adults who witnessed both psychological and physical violence between parents. Rather, only the same type of violence was significantly related. However, this finding may be limited by this study’s insufficient power to detect an interaction effect identified in a post hoc power analysis. Our findings are similar to Kalmuss (1984) regarding the violence-specific nature within the IGT of violence that appears to involve specific more than generalized modeling. This study supports the idea that the family is a major socializing institution and that witnessing interparental violence likely plays a role in the use and receipt of violence in emerging adult intimate relationships.

Limitations and Future Directions

Limitations must be noted while considering the findings of this study. Recall bias pertaining to the annual frequency of violent acts may be present due to a 1-year recall period. However, these methods are superior to previous studies that requested this information from childhood and adolescent years. The cross-sectional design of the study does not allow causal inference to be made between independent and dependent variables. Missing data posed a threat to the external generalizability of findings; however, this threat was not evident based on missing data analysis. Because the current study did not control for respondent’s witnessing of interparental violence or child abuse in childhood years, future studies, longitudinal in design, should control for these variables in multivariate models to determine a more adequate effect of witnessing interparental violence in the emerging adult stage. Moreover, the coefficients in the multivariate analyses need to be interpreted with caution because several relevant predictors of IPV were not included in the models; therefore, estimates are likely biased. Psychosocial variables not included in our survey instrument that could have possibly specified a more accurate model would include depression, stress, relationship status, substance use, relationship communication, and aggression.

Future research needs to examine the severity of violence witnessed by emerging adults and violence severity within their own relationships. Larger sample sizes are needed to determine emerging adult victim and perpetrator roles socially learned from witnessing interparental violence in the emerging adult developmental stage. Qualitative studies may also provide in-depth information regarding the context in which emerging adults experience violence (i.e., at home, on campus, couple’s apartment). Mediators (e.g., stress, coping, depression, learned hopelessness) between witnessing interparental violence in emerging adulthood and experiencing dating violence need further analytic attention.

Applications for Intervention

As pointed out by Carr & VanDeusen (2002), the college setting provides unique opportunities for primary and secondary prevention of IPV. Interventions in the emerging adult stage are important considering (a) pre-marital aggression has a strong link to marital aggression (O’Leary, et al., 1994) indicating that patterns set during dating relationships may continue in adult relationships, (b) dating prepares youth for adult intimate and marital relationships (O’Keeffe et al., 1986), and (c) the prevalence of IPV appears to peak between 20 and 25 years of age (O’Leary, 1999). This study indicated that emerging adults report high rates of IPV both in their own relationships and witnessed between parents. Thus, the following recommendations are provided to universities to enhance prevention and treatment of IPV:

  1. Develop a campuswide awareness of IPV including events, posters, and health education booths to inform students regarding the supportive campus attitude toward IPV prevention and the resources available to those seeking help.

  2. University health and counseling centers should incorporate IPV screening procedures during regular check-ups and visits for students who experience IPV and witness interparental violence.

  3. Intercampus referral programs should be set in place to assist IPV victims to locate needed resources such as counseling, information, and security services while on and off campus.

  4. Counselors should assist victims to develop skills (i.e., positive coping, social support) and provide resources (i.e., information about community programs for IPV victims, housing) to exit a violent relationship because victims may leave a perpetrator 6–12 times before leaving permanently (Berlinger, 1998).

  5. Counselors should assist students to develop positive emotions within dating relationships to protect against IPV. For example, a study of dating undergraduate students found that being willing to listen to and understand the partner and expressing positive feelings were both predictive of nonviolent as compared to violent relationships (Marcus & Swett, 2002).

  6. In more than 80% of women, violence starts during cohabitation (Garcia-Linares et al., 2005). Thus, financial assistance for campus housing should be provided to students who are exposed to violence between parents and/or to students who live with a violent intimate partner.


The IGT of violence is considered to be one main process to explain IPV enacted by individuals who witness violence in their family of origin. This study identified that a large proportion of emerging adults experience IPV within the college context. Moreover, this study provided support for the IGT of violence; however, only relatively moderate effects were identified for this select sample of emerging adults. An examination of the numerous other psychological and social variables not measured in this study is likely to assist in furthering our understanding the process. Considering the vast negative social and psychological impact of violence, the infrastructures of colleges, which contain health and psychological services, have the resources to serve an important role in the prevention and treatment of IPV.



The authors declared that they received no financial support for their research and/or authorship of this article.


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Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The authors declared that they had no conflicts of interests with respect to their authorship or the publication of this article.


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, University of Michigan

, University of Minnesota

, University of Minnesota

One interesting area of study which has received relatively little attention in the consumer behavior literature is the degree to which family influence carries over into our consumption activities as adults. Two studies have been conducted in an effort to begin to develop an understanding of the extent of intergenerational transfer (transmission of attitudes, values and behaviors from parents to children) and the impact of possible moderating factors in the process across a variety of choices. Hypotheses regarding intergenerational effects are developed from past consumer and sociological literature and are tested using data collected from two separate populations. Results of the two studies are presented, and the paper concludes by introducing a conceptual framework which integrates similarities and differences seen in the two samples.

The family has long been identified as the primary socialization agent for each new generation. Included in that socialization process is the development of a large set of skills and knowledge relevant to acting as successful consumers in a complex marketplace. It is through the family that we first learn skills such as budgeting or bargaining, that we are first exposed to the huge variety of products available and that we first develop attitudes toward and preferences for those product ;. One interesting area of study which has received relatively little attention in the consumer behavior literature is the degree to which this family influence carries over into our consumption activities as adults.

The transmission of attitudes, values and behaviors from parents to children is generally termed intergenerational transfer. Although it might be expected that evidence of such transfer would be strong, past sociological research has demonstrated only a modest relationship between parent and child attitudes and values (McBroom, et al 1985). However, this sociological research examines the transmission of general social values and norms. Almost no research has been conducted which examines such intergenerational effects in a consumer setting. The purpose of the present study is to examine the extent of intergenerational transfer of brand and store choices across a wide variety of products, and to examine possible moderating variables which may affect the duration of intergenerational influences through adulthood


Consumer socialization has Seen defined as the processes by which young people acquire skills, knowledge, and attitudes relevant to their functioning as consumers in the marketplace (Ward 1974). Agents affecting these processes include family, peers, media and public institutions (e.g., government, schools). Very early discussions of consumption related socialization were offered by sociologists in discussions of the development of "conspicuous consumption" patterns. Speculations were offered, for example. that children learn "rational" aspects of consumption from parents, "expressive" aspects from peers and mass media, and broader, "social role" aspects from schools or government (Parsons, et al 1953). Unfortunately, these essays on socialization processes were not accompanied by any empirical examination of the phenomena being hypothesized.

More recent efforts by consumer researchers have empirically examined the socialization process, particularly regarding the development of consumer skills of children and adolescents (c.f. Ward and Wackman (1973); Moschis (1979)). However, relatively little research has focussed on the impact of intergenerational effects on consumer decision making (Wilkie 1987; Moschis 1985), and even less has examined the impact of these family influences on one's behaviors as an adult. Of particular interest is the development of consumer preferences 3>nd choice making skills during early adulthood. Research which has been conducted has examined a variety of moderating factors thought to impact the socialization process. Moschis and Churchill (1978), for example, concluded that the family's social class affects intergenerational transfer of consumer skills. They assert that adolescents from lower class families do not have the number of opportunities to participate in consumption decisions that middle and upper class children have, and additionally, lower class families may not engage in discussions relevant to consumer socialization as frequently as middle or upper class families. In another study examining socio-economic factors, Moschis, et al (1983) suggest that increased consumer knowledge is transferred in middle class families over those of other socio-economic status. Other studies have examined factors such as age (Moschis, et al 1986), the effects of parental communication styles (Moschis and Moore 1984: Moschis 1985), 3rd gender (Moschis, et al 1977; Moschis and Churchill 1979).

In none of these studies is an attempt made to assess the importance of intergenerational influences in explaining adult behavior, particularly early adult behavior. In fact, almost no research has examined the influence of parents' consumption decisions on subsequent choices made by their adult offspring for the same product. The research that has been conducted includes one study by Woodsen, Childers and Winn (1976) which showed that intergenerational influences were strong for decisions about insurance companies and identified age as a moderator of the effects. Another study found significant relationships between undergraduate college students and their parents regarding favorite stores, brand loyalty, opinion leadership and innovativeness (Arndt, 1971). While these studies have identified the presence of intergenerational transfer, certainly more effort is needed to clarify how intergenerational influences are utilized by adults in their decision making processes and for what marketing situations these influences are likely to be important. The purpose of the studies to be described below, is to begin to develop a broader understanding of the contexts in which intergenerational influences occur and of the factors moderating such influences.


As indicated above, very little research has been done which examines the effects of intergenerational transfer on adult consumption behavior. However, in an extensive review and integration of research examining family communication patterns and consumer socialization of adolescents, Moschis (1985) sets forth a number of propositions describing potential intergenerational effects and moderators of such effects. While the propositions have been developed to explain adolescent behavior and attitude development, when combined with past research introduced above, they can serve as a basis for expectations regarding adult behavior. The propositions Moschis sets forth are too numerous to explore in a single study, and so the present research focuses on possible .moderating effects which may inhibit or enhance intergenerational transfer of preferences. In the section which follows, hypotheses are developed which describe the expected effect of a selection of these moderating factors on intergenerational carryover for product and store choices of adults. The factors have been selected primarily due to their presence in past studies of family decision making or in the conceptual framework offered by Moschis. The descriptive nature of the study is appropriate given the early stage of theoretical development which characterizes the intergenerational transfer effect in consumer decision making.

Marketing Variables

Past research suggests that intergenerational influence will vary for different types of products. For example, Moschis and Moore (1979) found that the perceived risk associated with a product-choice mediated the extent to which adolescents accepted parental guidance. Other research has suggested that intergenerational transmission of product preferences is likely to be greater and longer lasting for shopping goods and products of high perceived risk and weaker and of shorter duration for convenience and specialty goods (Woodsen, Childers and Winn 1976; Moschis 1985). These results lead to the hypothesis that:

H1a: Intergenerational influence will be greater for shopping goods than for convenience goods.

It would also be expected that store choice decisions would follow a similar pattern.

H1b: Store choices for shopping goods will demonstrate a stronger intergenerational transfer than stores al which convenience goods are found.


Many studies have shown that age is an important moderating factor in the degree to which parents' preferences or attitudes impact on their children's choices (Vener 1957; Moschis et al 1977; Moschis and Moore 1979). Additionally, Woodsen, Childers and Winn (1976) found age to moderate intergenerational influences in adults' decisions about insurance. They report that while early adult insurance choices are strongly affected by parental choice, as the consumers get older, their decisions are less similar to that of their parents. Based upon their findings it is hypothesized that:

H2: Intergenerational influence will decrease with age for both product and store choices.


Researchers examining adolescent behavior have concluded that the degree of parental influence on consumer decisions is affected by the sex of the child. Because girls, especially teenagers, exhibit an earlier and relatively higher need for conformity to peer group norms, they are more likely to make decisions relevant to personal appearance independently of their family (Saunders, et al 1973; Moschis, et al 1977). As a result, less intergenerational influence is demonstrated for such products. This earlier pattern of consumer independence may also influence female decision strategies as they reach adulthood. Because they began making consumption decisions at an earlier age, intergenerational influences may be weaker generally for females than for males. Therefore it is hypothesized that:

H3: Intergenerational influence will be stronger for males than for females in both product and store selections.

Family Relationships

Moschis (1985) reports that families' communication structures have an effect on the types of parental influences demonstrated in adolescent behaviors. The relationships he discusses are quite interactive - involving variables such as frequency, content and structure of the communication, with respect to the congruency of gender between parent and child, in addition to o{her non-family influences. However, a general conclusion which can be inferred from his discussion is that families that demonstrate more frequent communication have a higher likelihood of displaying intergenerational transfer. One possible indicator of such communication and family environment is the level of family orientation expressed by the offspring. It seems plausible that when individuals place more importance on the family and on parental authority, intergenerational transfer will be longer lasting and will be demonstrated for a broader set of contexts. It is therefore hypothesized that:

H4 Increased intergenerational influence for both product and store choices will be demonstrated when family orientation is stronger.

Additional Offspring Characteristics

A number of other factors may influence the strength of intergenerational transfer, including the individual's education, income and marital status and whether the household contains an extended family. For example, it would be expected that as level of education increases, individuals acquire increasing amounts of exposure to various models of decision making, and to consumer education generally. As a result the person would be less likely to mimic parental choices and to demonstrate instead an independent style of decision making. It is thus hypothesized that:

H5: As education increases intergenerational influence for both product and store choices decreases.

Similarly, as an adult offspring becomes more financially secure, or if the offspring income exceeds that of the parent, it would be expected that consumer choices would become more disparate from those of the parents, particularly for shopping goods which "represent" the status of the offspring. Therefore, it is hypothesized that:

H6a: As income increases intergenerational influence in product and store choices decreases.

H6b: The decrease will be more pronounced for shopping goods.

Marital status is another potentially important moderator of intergenerational influences The strongest demonstration of intergenerational influence would be expected for offspring who have never been married. Once the offspring participates in a cohabitation situation, factors such as resolution of conflicts regarding product or store preferences while adapting to the budget situation in the new household would be expected to decrease the level of intergenerational influence demonstrated. As a result it is hypothesized that:

H7: Intergenerational influences will be stronger for individuals who have never been married.

Finally, if the adult offspring are living with their parents, it is expected that product and store choices will be more similar to those of their parents than for those living away from their parents. This may be due to continued parental pressure in consumption decisions, or to a lack of environmental changes which may lead to more independent decisions. Stated formally, it is hypothesized that:

H8: Intergenerational influences will be stronger for individuals whose household includes an extended family.


A number of the hypotheses developed above contain elements which might be expected to change over time. In order to examine adult behaviors as thoroughly as possible, and to consider the early adult period as well as adulthood generally, two separate surveys were conducted using distinct populations. Because the content of the surveys was identical, it will be outlined before the populations are described.

Product Tape Ratings

Of primary interest in this study is the examination of intergenerational influence across a wider array of consumer choices than has been previously documented. In order to support he categorizations of convenience versus shopping goods, the products used in the survey were rated by a separate sample of twenty-six students on three characteristics. Using a commonly accepted definition of product types (c.f, Kotler, p. 466) a questionnaire was developed which required that the respondents rate each product on "time spent shopping for the product' (1= Almost no time; 5 = Great deal of time); "frequency of purchasing the product" (1 = Very Infrequently; 5 = Very Frequently); and, "comparisons made before purchasing the product" (1 = no comparisons made; 5 = Always made comparisons). After summing across the categories of convenience versus shopping goods, mean scores were shown to be significantly different on all three characteristics. Specifically, time spent shopping was greater for shopping products (Mean = 3.9) than for convenience products (Mean = 1.7; t-value = 12.25, p < .01); convenience products (Mean = 3.0) were purchased more frequently than shopping products (Mean = 1.7; t-value = 11.05, p < .01); and more comparisons we.e made for shopping products (Mean = 3.9) than for convenience products (Mean = 2.8, t-value = 5.32, p <.01).

Purchase Pattern Survey

Using the information described above, a survey was designed which required respondents to indicate whether they generally bought the same brand as their parents for 22 different convenience products and 13 different shopping products. Responses for the items included whether the respondents currently: buy the same brand as parer,is, buy different brand from parents, don t know or don't buy. Next, the same type of responses were given for 9 different store choices - five for shopping products and four for convenience products.

Respondents were then asked to complete an 11-item filler scale measuring internal-external locus of control, followed by a 9-item scale designed to measure their family orientation. This measure of family orientation was developed by Bales and Couch (1969) as part of a large set of items designed to measure values related to interpersonal relations. In the nine item sub-scale titled Acceptance of Authority, individuals' attitudes toward parental guidance and family participation are measured. Increasing scores on the scale indicate more acceptance of parental authority by the offspring and increasing importance of family.

A series of demographic questions was then completed which included age, education, marital status, income of respondent, whether they lived with their parents and whether their parents lived in the same metropolitan area.

Respondent Populations

As indicated above, two different populations were sampled in order to collect information from a broad section of the adult population. In the first study the survey was given to a convenience sample of undergraduate ar,d graduate business students at a major midwestern university. Distribution and completion occurred with the class periods, thus eliminating problems of survey nonresponse. Usable questionnaires were collected from 123 students, ninety-one percent of whom were under the age of 30. Other characteristics of the sample included seventy-two percent never having been married, forty-three percent female, fifty-three percent undergraduate and ninety-three percent with household incomes of less than 51 5000/year.

The second study was conducted in order to examine the hypotheses using a population which represented a more diverse array of demographic characteristics &man was possible using students as respondents. The population utilized in this study was defined as the non-faculty staff of a major midwestern university. A random sample of 300 was selected to receive the survey, from which 209 usable questionnaires were returned. Intra-university mail was utilized to send and return the surveys, but all respondent replies were anonymous. The range of demographic characteristics was much broader for this group and as a result is believed to more adequately represent a cross-section of consumers than does the group of business students. For example, the ages of respondents ranged from twenty-one to sixty-four, with about fifty percent of the sample being less than thirty. Household incomes ranged from less than $10000 to more than $90000, with twenty-eight percent of the respondents having never been married.

Dependent Measure Definitions

In order to examine the hypotheses developed above, an index was created which measures the proportion of consumption decisions made for which the brand purchased was the sa,me as was purchased by the respondents' parents. Specifically, the number of responses "Same as Parents" was used as the numerator and the total number of products/stores for which intergenerational transfer was assessed was used as the denominator. The six indices which were calculated included a measure for convenience products, shopping products, total products, convenience stores, shopping stores and total stores. In order to assure that each of the indices was an adequate measure for the hypothesis tests, single sample Z-tests were conducted to evaluate whether the proportions calculated were statistically greater than zero. Each of the indices for both the student and non-student samples was found to be statistically different from zero. The actual values of the indices ranged from approximately twenty-nine (z = 4.91, p < .05) to forty-three percent (z = 25.1, p < .01) in the student sample and from approximately sixteen (z = 11.4, p < .01) to twenty-nine percent (z = 20.4, p < .01) in the non-student sample.

In the results sections which follow, the two sets of respondent data will be evaluated. In order to examine the moderating effects of the various stimulus and individual characteristics, t-tests were conducted when categorical variables were utilized. Overall indices of product and store choices are utilized for these tests because the indices for convenience versus shopping products or stores produced the same pattern of results. Correlations were calculated and evaluated when interval or ratio level descriptors were collected. Correlations are reported for both convenience and shopping categories because of differences seen across the categories.


Study 1 Results

The first set of hypotheses predict that the intergenerational transfer of brand or store choice will be greater for shopping goods than for convenience goods. In the sample of undergraduate and graduate students, the reverse was found. For both product and store choice, a greater percentage of convenience goods (Mean = 43.2) or stores (Mean = 40.1) were reported to be the same as parents than were shopping goods (Mean = 29.6) or stores (Mean = 29.0). Each of these differences was statistically significant (t:product = 6.07, p < .01; Store = 3.02, p < .01).

The results of analyses of the various individual characteristics are found in Tables 1 and 2. Table 1 contains the mean index values for the categorical characteristics and Table 2 includes the correlations calculated between the indices and the interval or ratio level individual characteristic measures. Each of the tables will be referred to below, as the results of the remaining hypothesis tests are presented-.

The second hypothesis predicts that intergenerational influence decreases with the age of the decision maker. The results of the hypothesis tests using data collected from the student sample are mixed. While all of the correlations are in the predicted direction (Table 2), the correlation between age and the convenience product index is not statistically significant. That is, while there does appear to be an inverse relationship between age and intergenerational influence in shopping product and both shopping and convenience store choices, the relationship is not statistically significant for convenience products.

The present study does not provide any evidence of differences between males and females for either product or store choice. No significant differences are seen between men and women in their indices of intergenerational transfer (Table 1), and so, hypothesis three is not supported.



The moderating effect of family orientation is examined in the lest of hypothesis four. As predicted, the effect of intergenerational transfer increases with increasing perceived importance of family for both convenience and shopping product choices (Table 2). The effect is also present for the selection of shopping; goods stores, but is not significant for convenience store choices (Table 2). Overall, hypothesis four is supported in three of the four analyses of the student respondents.

The final four hypotheses examine demographic characteristics not previously examined in the literature, but seemingly important in the understanding of intergenerational influence. Hypothesis five predicts that added years of education will diminish the intergenerational transfer effect*. The results support the hypothesis for both product and store choice (Table 1). A related factor, income, is examined in the test of hypothesis six, where mixed results are found (Table 2). As was evident in the examination of age effects, all correlations are in the predicted direction, and significant for both store choice and shopping goods. However, the correlation between income and the index of convenience product choices is not significant.

The impact of marital status on the intergenerational effect is examined in the test of hypothesis seven. As was predict d, the effect is stronger for both product and store choices when respondents have never been married (Table 1). However, in the examination of the effects of living in one's parents home, the difference in product choice indices is not significant. Those respondents living with their parents do show a significantly greater proportion of similar store choices (Table 1). Overall, the results of the test of hypothesis eight are mixed.



In summary, the results of the first study provide support for several of the hypotheses developed above. However, there appear to be some complex relationships which develop for product versus store choices, or for convenience versus shopping products. Potential explanations of such complexities are offered in the section which follows.

Discussion of Study 1

The test of hypothesis one showed significant but reverse effects than were predicted by past literature. However, the results support an alternative argument for adult behavior, based upon the notion of time commitment. Using the logic that individuals are more willing to spend time choosing shopping goods, it might be expected that intergenerational influence would be strongest for convenience goods or "negative" goods (such as insurance, funeral parlors) where parental choices are used as a time-saving heuristic in decision making processes, especially when consumers have little motivation to use complex decision making processes.

As indicated above, many of the hypotheses regarding the moderating effects of individual characteristics on intergenerational influence were supported. The lack of a gender effect may be caused by complexities not considered relevant to the present analysis. For example, previous research showing gender effects has limited the product type being examined to what might be considered more "female relevant" products of clothing and personal care items (Moschis, 1985). In the present analysis the indices include many examples of more generalized categories. Because the purpose of the study is to aid in the development of a more general conceptual framework, the absence of a gender effect appears to support the notion that intergenerational transfer is of importance in understanding, consumption decisions of both males and females.

Two variables for which hypothesis tests received only partial support were age and income. For each of these variables, all correlations we,e in the predicted, negative direction, but the correlations between the individual characteristics and choice indices were not significant for convenience products. One explanation of these results is that, as discussed above, intergenerational influence serves as a heuristic for these choices. As a result, the impact of the influence would be expected to be less strongly moderated by age or income. Convenience product and store preferences acquired from the family appear to have a more enduring effect for adults and to be relatively independent of individuals' discretionary spending potential. An alternative explanation may be that the correlations have been impacted by the constrained range of the age and income variables in 1 sample of student populations. The results of study two should add insight regarding these two potential explanations of the non-significant correlations.

Study 2 Results

In study two, as in the sample of students, the reverse of the hypothesized effect is found for the indices of convenience versus shopping product and store choices. For both product and store choice, a greater percentage of convenience goods (Mean = 29.3) or stores (Mean = 26.4) were reported to be the same as parents than were shopping goods (Mean = 16.2) or stores (Mean = 16.1). Each of these differences was statistically significant (tproduct = 9.15, p < .01; tStore = 4.24, p <.01).

Tables 1 and 2 contain the results of analyses of the various individual characteristics. Again Table 1 contains the mean index values for the categorical characteristics and Table 2 presents the correlations calculated between the indices and individual characteristic measures. One difference in the reported analyses of the second study is due to the four response categories utilized to measure education in study two. Because of the increased number of categories an analysis of variance was used to perform the hypothesis test. Once again, each of the tables will be referred to below, as the results of the remaining hypothesis tests are presented.

The results of the tests of hypothesis two are consistent across the product and store indices using data collected from the nonstudent sample. All of the correlations are in the predicted direction and are statistically significant (Table 2). That is, the inverse relationship between age and intergenerational influence is present for both convenience and shopping product and store choices.

As in study one, there is no evidence of differences between males and females for either product or store choice. No significant differences are found between men and women in their indices of intergenerational transfer (Table 1), and so, hypothesis three is, again, not supported.

The moderating effect of family orientation is less clear in the analysis of the Study 2 data. As predicted in hypothesis four, the effect of intergenerational transfer increases with increasing perceived importance of family for convenience product choices (Table 2). However, the effect is not significant for the shopping product or either category of store choice (Table 2). Overall, hypothesis four receives only weak support when examining the nonstudent response data.

Other demographic characteristics also appear to provide mixed evidence of moderating intergenerational influence. Hypothesis five is not supported in Study 2. Varying years of education appear to have no significant effect on intergenerational transfer for either product or store choices (Table 1). However, as in the first study, the related income factor shows mixed results (Table 2). Al correlations are in the direction predicted in hypothesis six, but the correlation between income and the indices of both convenience product and store choices are not significant.

Finally, as was predicted in hypothesis seven, the intergenerational transfer effect is stronger for both product and store choices when respondents have never been married (Table 1). Additionally, the same effects are seen when the respondent is living with their parents. Those respondents living with their parents show a significantly greater proportion of similar product and store choices (Table 1). So, in Study 2, both hypotheses seven and eight are supported. One additional question asked of the nonstudent sample was whether they currently lived in the same metropolitan area as their parents. As seen in Table 1, this geographic proximity variable does significantly moderate intergenerational influence for both product and store choices.

Discussion of Study 2

The tests of H1 once again showed significant but reverse effects than were predicted by past literature. These results, combined with those of Study 1, appear to offer strong support for the alternative argument based upon the notion of time commitment. Again, this explanation suggests that for adults, the intergenerational influence is strongest and most enduring 'or convenience goods or "negative" goods (such as insurance, funeral parlors). Alternatively, adults are more willing to spend time selecting shopping goods and are more likely to utilize more information in making such decisions than would be provided by simply examining their parents' choices.

Fewer of the hypotheses regarding the moderating effects of individual characteristics on intergenerational influence were supported in the second study. One consistent finding was the absence of gender differences in intergenerational transfer for either products or stores. As stated earlier, this may be due to the lack of gender specific product choices which have been examined in past research (Moschis, 1985). In the present analysis the indices include many examples of more generalized categories. The consistency of the finding across the studies does support he notion that intergenerational transfer is an important concept in developing an understanding of consumption decisions of both males and females.

Two variables for which hypothesis tests received differential support across the two studies were age and income. The role of age as a moderator of intergenerational transfer is seen more strongly in the second study. In this study, all correlations were significant and in the predicted direction. That is, it appears that all choices reflect less intergenerational influence as age increases. As suggested earlier, this may support the notion that Study 1 findings represent a constrained age range in the sample of student populations where the large majority of the respondents had spent limited time away from their parents' home.

Interestingly, convenience product and store preferences acquired from the family do appear to have a more e-,during affect for adults across their discretionary spending potential. This may be due to the fact that convenience goods and stores are less socially visible (so heuristics are used in decision making), whereas shopping good choices are seen as more reflective of the shopper, and therefore parents' choices are seen as less relevant to the decision as more discretionary money becomes available.

Another difference in the two studies is seen in the relationship of family orientation with intergenerational influence. The magnitude of the correlations decreases substantially in the second study, with the only significant relationship indicating that intergenerational influence in convenience product choices increases with family orientation. One possible explanation for this inconsistency between the studies, is a change in the respondents' perspectives when completing the "Family Orientation" scale. The scale format does not specify which family group should be considered when responding, so, whereas the student sample (72% Never Married) would be expected to answer the questions based upon their experiences as children many of the respondents in the second study may have responded as parents. As a result, the measure is not necessarily representing the relationship which would be relevant to intergenerational influence in the present study. This is also supported by the findings in both studies regarding the negative impact on intergenerational influence of ever being married. Any future research examining these relationships must clearly indicate to adult respondents which family experiences they must consider when completing such scales, and may also want to consider the impact of multiple sets of parents when studying married respondents.



In summary, a number of differences have been identified in the two studies. The discussions offered above have suggested some explanations for these differences; however, in some cases the discrepancies themselves appear to be informative. In the final section the findings of the two studies will be integrated and used to develop a model describing the nature of moderating effects on intergenerational transfer


Figure 1 presents a simple conceptualization of the intergenerational transfer process, based upon the results presented above. The definition of intergenerational transfer, as the impact of parental influence on the behavior of offspring as adults, is represented as a precursor to choices regarding product and store choices. (Note that this is not to be construed as a complete model of choice, it represents only the nature of the intergenerational transfer process.) Moderating variables, which affect the transfer process are seen as falling into one of two categories. The first category represents variables which impact the strength of the influence. These variables include age, income, education and family orientation. For each of these variables, parental influence decreases as the opportunity for shopping experience increases. One situation for which parental influence continues to endure to a greater extent across these experiences is in the selection of convenience products. The best explanation for this effect seems to be that knowledge of parental choices is used as a time-saving heuristic when the products are not complex or involving.

The second category of moderators reflect the opportunity for parental influence. Variables such as marital status, living with parents and geographic proximity to parents all relate to the opportunity for continued interaction with parents. In general it appears that continued opportunity for interaction prolongs or emphasizes the degree to which adults' choices are tied to those of their parents. Effects of one of the variables in this category - marital status may be more complex than can be identified in the present study. Although being married clearly serves to reduce the influence of the respondents' parents in this survey, the nature of the questions did not allow the examination of possible influences of the spousal parents.

The purpose of this study was to examine intergenerational influence present in product and store decisions and to identify the nature of moderating effects in the intergenerational transfer process. The discussions above have presented specific comments regarding such moderating effects, as well as to develop a conceptual framework with which to further categorize and describe such effects. This represents only the first step in family understanding the role of parental influence on adults' consumption decisions. Further research is needed to identify the processes by which some of the effects seen in this study occur. For example, the present study does not explore the manner in which intergenerational effects are integrated into a marital situation. Understanding how a couple reconciles inconsistent parental experiences, or how parental influence is considered when an adult (or couple) moves to a different geographic area is beyond the scope of this research, but may help to further delineate the intergenerational transfer process. While many questions remain to be asked and answered regarding intergenerational effects, this paper has demonstrated the existence of such effects in a broad cross section of the population for both product and store choices.


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