How Does Personality Influence Parenting?

Personality influences nearly every area of an individual’s life. From relationship satisfaction, career stability and even mortality, the five leading personality traits, known as the Big Five, agreeableness, openness, extraversion, conscientiousness and neuroticism, have been shown to have a direct impact throughout. But a new study suggests that an individual’s personality also influences another important role. “Given the importance of personality for the ways in which people live and experience their lives, it is hardly surprising that personality has been proposed to be related to one of the most central, challenging, and affectively charged tasks that many adults are faced with: namely, parenting,” said  Amaranta D. de Haan, Maja Dekovic´, and Peter Prinzie of Utrecht University, who conducted a study to determine exactly how the personalities of parents and adolescents affect the parenting dynamic. They theorized that outgoing and social parents, high in extraversion, would most likely exhibit positive and highly motivating behaviors with their children, while introverted parents would act more withdrawn and unavailable. Additionally, the team noted that children with difficult temperament who are impulsive and distractible may elicit stricter discipline and negative reactions from their parents.

The researchers interviewed nearly 1500 individuals, including mothers, fathers and adolescents, and assessed their personalities using the Five-Factor Personality Inventory and the Hierarchical Personality Inventory for Children respectively. They looked specifically at warmth and overreactive discipline when they assessed them two years later. They found that overreactivity was influenced more by the personality of the parent rather than the adolescent. But the personality traits of both children and parents impacted the level of warmth. “Associations between parental personality and parenting were similarly related to parents of easy versus difficult adolescents, and for mothers and fathers parenting daughters or sons,” said the team. “Together, results show that parent characteristics as well as adolescent characteristics importantly affect dysfunctional and adaptive parenting.”

de Haan, A. D., Deković, M., & Prinzie, P. (2011, August 29). Longitudinal Impact of Parental and Adolescent Personality on Parenting. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025254

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Krazy Kat

    Krazy Kat

    September 8th, 2011 at 4:37 PM

    A parents has everything 2 do with a child’s attitude imho. If a parent’s gotta Type A personality, the kid will have a Type A personality too. If a parents always happy their children will always be happy, u get the idea. Ya this probly has to do with genes and DNA but I think it’s more so about the children being around them and learning to be like them. Kinda like how kids from England have English accents, except in this case we’re talkin bout’ behavior. U do it the same way you’re parents did. A killer example would be parents who smoke are more likely to have children who smoke.

  • earl


    September 8th, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    they did all the study just to find a result that we can all tell just by logic?? I don’t get the purpose of this study at all!

  • louis bernard

    louis bernard

    September 9th, 2011 at 4:00 AM

    personality dies play a big role in we train and raise our children is what is parenting and in those actions there r a million possibilities.what we choose depends on our personality,it’s our way of parenting.Nd another thing that can hugely affect parenting style is our parents’ parenting styles!

    there are a lot of ppl who replicate their parents’ parenting style and there are also many that do very differently coz they didn’t like that style.again this choice of follow-the-style or not comes from our personality!

  • Billy S

    Billy S

    September 9th, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Don’t think that there could possibly be anyone out there who does not think that one’s personality plays a part in what kind of parent he or she will be. . . is there? I mean this is something that dictates every other part of your life. Do you not think that it could influence what kind of parent that you will be too? That does not mean that you always have to be controlled by it, but it does mean that you should be aware of it and think about the kind of behavior that you may be exhibiting to your child.

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