Inconsistent nurturing as control theory was developed by the former communication scholar and current psycho-oncologist Beth Le Poire (Molineux). Le Poire's theory was developed in an attempt to understand how inconsistent patterns of communication in families might inadvertently reinforce and strengthen undesirable and often unhealthy behavior in the family.

The primary component of the theory is the notion of inconsistent nurturing as control operating much as intermittent reinforcement and punishment and relying heavily on the theoretical underpinnings of Albert Bandura's social learning theory. Le Poire argues that although partners (referred to as “functional partners”) of those with unhealthy behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, eating disorders, smoking, risky eating patterns) have a sincere desire for their partners to discontinue the unhealthy behavior, they inadvertently alternate between nurturing and ...

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