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likely exhibit positive and highly motivating behaviors with their children, while introverted parents would act more withdrawn and unavailable.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 GoodTherapy.org.
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