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The Effects of Parenting Styles and Childhood Attachment Patterns on Intimate Relationships.

This paper examines the idea that parental behavior characteristic of authoritative, authoritarian and permissive permissive adj. 1) referring to any act which is allowed by court order, legal procedure, or agreement. 2) tolerant or allowing of others' behavior, suggesting contrary to others' standards.

 parenting styles Parenting style is a psychological construct representing standard strategies parents use in raising their children.

One of the best known theories of parenting style was developed by Diana Baumrind.
 seem to parallel the parental behavior connected with secure, avoidant, and ambivalent am·biv·a·lent  
Exhibiting or feeling ambivalence.

am·biva·lent·ly adv.

Adj. 1.
 attachment styles. Since it has been demonstrated that attachment styles result in an internal working model which guides intimate relationships An intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship. It is a relationship in which the participants know or trust one another very well or are confidants of one another, or a relationship in which there is physical or emotional intimacy.  as an adult, it is hypothesized that parenting styles which mirror the attachment pattern will also predict relationship abilities as an adult. Fifty-six volunteer undergraduate students participated in this study. Results show that although 92% of the students with authoritative parenting styles are also securely attached, that only attachment styles predict intimacy patterns. Those students who were securely attached to their parents scored significantly higher on tests of personal intimacy and belief in other's abilities to be intimate Verb 1. be intimate - have sexual intercourse with; "This student sleeps with everyone in her dorm"; "Adam knew Eve"; "Were you ever intimate with this man?"  as opposed to those students with authoritarian or permissive parents. Results are discussed in the context that attachment patterns form an early working model while parenting styles are more prevalent when the child is older and may affect other variables.

Many variables contribute to the formation of an attachment between child and caregiver care·giv·er
1. An individual, such as a physician, nurse, or social worker, who assists in the identification, prevention, or treatment of an illness or disability.

. Ainsworth (1964) developed a classification system that categorized cat·e·go·rize  
tr.v. cat·e·go·rized, cat·e·go·riz·ing, cat·e·go·riz·es
To put into a category or categories; classify.

 attachment into three types; secure, avoidant, and ambivalent attachment, each characterized by the mother's typical behavior towards the child and the child's reaction to the mother. For example, mothers of securely attached children rate higher on scales of sensitivity, acceptance, cooperation, and emotional accessibility (Ainsworth, 1967; Ainsworth & Bell, 1970; Karen, 1998). Due to this, the child has a great deal of autonomy, affective affective /af·fec·tive/ (ah-fek´tiv) pertaining to affect.

1. Concerned with or arousing feelings or emotions; emotional.

 sharing, cognitive flexibility, problem-solving ability and perseverance Perseverance
See also Determination.


redid dictionary manuscript burnt in fire. [Br. Hist.: Brewer Handbook, 752]

Call of the Wild, The

dogs trail steadfastly through Alaska’s tundra. [Am. Lit.
 (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1979). All of these outcomes indicate that secure attachment results in healthy family and peer relationships as well as, high self-esteem for the child (Bowlby, 1988). Conversely con·verse 1  
intr.v. con·versed, con·vers·ing, con·vers·es
1. To engage in a spoken exchange of thoughts, ideas, or feelings; talk. See Synonyms at speak.

, the mothers of insecurely in·se·cure  
1. Not sure or certain; doubtful: unemployed and facing an insecure future.

 attached children display behaviors Display behavior is the tendency of living things to express actions or formations, it is thought, for competitive advantage. Among animals
Animals may use display behavior for different purposes including threat, courtship and direct competition for example.
 that range from chaotic or inconsistent care-taking (Bridges & Connell, 1991; Egeland & Farber, 1984) to rejection and maltreatment maltreatment Social medicine Any of a number of types of unreasonable interactions with another adult. See Child maltreatment, Cf Child abuse.  of their children (Ainsworth, 1989). In response to these parenting techniques, these children become emotionally isolated from both family and peers and seldom have stable interpersonal relationships This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.

Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the for details.
This article has been tagged since September 2007.
 or a good self-concept (Bowlby, 1988).

The type of attachment that a child forms has long-term repercussions repercussions nplrépercussions fpl

repercussions nplAuswirkungen pl 
 into many aspects of the child's development and adult life (Bowlby, 1969). Some of these aspects include peer relationships and the ability to maintain long-term intimate relationships. Collins and Reed (1990) propose that early attachment histories are the basis of an internal working model for adult relationships whereby persons with secure childhood attachments show higher levels of trust, closeness, and dependability while insecure in·se·cure
1. Lacking emotional stability; not well-adjusted.

2. Lacking self-confidence; plagued by anxiety.

 childhood attachments predict the reverse (Bowlby, 1973, 1980, 1982). However, there are other variables within a parent-child relationship that might also predict the outcome of the child's future interpersonal relationships. One of these variables is that of parenting styles. Baumrind (1966) defines the three types of parenting styles as authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. Parental behavior for each of these styles seems to parallel that of parental behavior for individual attachment patterns. For example, similar to the parent of a securely attached child, the authoritative parent is sensitive to the child's needs, does not use punitive discipline, and reasons with the child in a loving and affectionate manner (Baumrind, 1966).

Likewise, comparable to avoidant parenting, the authoritarian parent is demanding, but unresponsive unresponsive Neurology adjective Referring to a total lack of response to neurologic stimuli  to the child, tends to use punitive and harsh punishment, physical enforcement, reprimands, and prohibitive pro·hib·i·tive   also pro·hib·i·to·ry
1. Prohibiting; forbidding: took prohibitive measures.

 interventions (Kochanska, Kuczyniski, & Radke, 1989). Similarly so, the outcomes of authoritarian parenting tend to overlap the characteristics of avoidant attachment. The children of authoritarian parents have been described as anxious, angry, aggressive, and having low self-esteem (Baumrind, 1967; 1971). In like manner, Elicker, Englund, and Sroufe (1992) have described avoidant children as angry, aggressive, isolated and disliked by their peers.

Although not as clear, the parent who fosters an ambiguous attachment may also mirror permissive parenting. For example, the permissive parent is generally described as lax, and inconsistent, and use withdrawal of love as punishment (Connor, 1980). They also tend to show their ambivalence ambivalence (ămbĭv`ələns), coexistence of two opposing drives, desires, feelings, or emotions toward the same person, object, or goal. The ambivalent person may be unaware of either of the opposing wishes.  about discipline by alternating praise and punishment (Baumrind, 1967). Similarly, mothers of ambivalently attached children are described as lacking in responsiveness and sensitivity to their children, and as being either too lenient le·ni·ent  
Inclined not to be harsh or strict; merciful, generous, or indulgent: lenient parents; lenient rules.
 or too controlling of their child (Egeland & Farber, 1984). Baumrind (1967) reported that children of permissive parents have low self-control and self-reliance, and are very immature immature /im·ma·ture/ (im?ah-chldbomacr´) unripe or not fully developed.

Not fully grown or developed.


unripe or not fully developed.
 while ambivalently attached children are described as anxious, immature (Karen, 1998), and show little initiative (Egeland & Farber, 1984).

If it is true that childhood attachment styles can predict the quality of adult interpersonal relationships, and if parenting styles reflect the same influence as attachment styles, then it seems likely that parenting styles should also predict relationship outcomes. If however, parenting styles are fundamentally different from attachment, then parenting styles and attachment should predict relationship outcomes differently. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently
, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 current research, attachment patterns should predict the quality of relations that includes both a person's ability to have healthy intimate relationships as well as a set of beliefs about other people's abilities. For example, Dalton and Frick-Horbury (submitted manuscript) found that in contrast to those people with insecure attachment, people with a secure parental attachment scored higher on variables such as warmth, feelings of security, and healthy independence which were predictive of a person's intimacy abilities. Additionally, those people with secure attachment had more positive perceptions on variables which predicted their beliefs about other people's accessibility, trustworthiness trustworthiness Ethics A principle in which a person both deserves the trust of others and does not violate that trust , and responsiveness to one's needs than those with an insecure attachment. Thus, if parenting styles parallel attachment patterns, then we hypothesize hy·poth·e·size  
v. hy·poth·e·sized, hy·poth·e·siz·ing, hy·poth·e·siz·es
To assert as a hypothesis.

To form a hypothesis.
 that those with authoritative parents will also score higher on variables of both self-intimacy and perceptions of other's intimacy than those with either an authoritarian or permissive parenting style. Further, we hypothesize that parenting styles will be just as predictive as attachment on variables of both self-intimacy and perception of other's intimacy. Finally, we predict that those with an authoritative parenting style will be more likely to be securely attached than those with an authoritative or permissive parenting style.



Participants were fifty-six voluntary undergraduates from Appalachian State University History
Appalachian State University began in the summer of 1899 when a group of citizens of Watauga County, NC, under the leadership of D.D. Dougherty and B.B. Dougherty, began a movement to establish a good school in Boone, NC. Land was donated by D.B.
 who received extra credit in their undergraduate psychology courses. Only students who grew up in a two-parent home were eligible to participate The participants consisted of 19 males and 34 females ranging in age from 18 to 22.

Materials and Procedure

Participants were asked to fill out several questionnaires. A demographics The attributes of people in a particular geographic area. Used for marketing purposes, population, ethnic origins, religion, spoken language, income and age range are examples of demographic data.  questionnaire obtained background information such as gender, relationship status, and parental marital history. In addition, participants were asked to relate their perceptions of their parental attachment history using a modification of the Descriptions of Parental Caregiving Style (Hazan & Shaver, 1986; unpublished manuscript). The scale is based on Hazan and Shaver's Attachment Style Measure that categorizes adult attachment patterns as secure, avoidant, or anxious/ambivalent.

Relationship with others [RO] and self-relationship qualities [RS] were assessed using the Attachment and Object Relations Inventory [AORI AORI Airfield Obstruction Reduction Initiative ] developed by Buelow, McClain, and McIntosh (1996). RO assesses relationships with others via three subscales of Peers, Parents, Partners and the RS using the three subscales of Secure, Independent, and Close.

Parenting styles were assessed with the Parenting Practices Survey developed by Robinson, Mandelco, Olsen, & Hart (1995). Authoritative parenting was assessed using the subscales of warmth, induction, democratic participation, and easy-goingness. Permissive parenting was assessed using the variables of lack of follow through, ignoring misbehavior, and self-confidence. Authoritarian parenting was rated on verbal hostility, corporal punishment corporal punishment, physical chastisement of an offender. At one extreme it includes the death penalty (see capital punishment), but the term usually refers to punishments like flogging, mutilation, and branding. Until c. , punitive strategies, and directiveness.

Participants completed the questionnaires in groups of no more than fifteen participants at a time. The completion of the packet required approximately 45 minutes of the participant's time.


Ratings on the AORI were calculated to give a score for RS and RO for each participant. Scores for the three parenting styles were calculated and each participant was assigned a parenting style according to the highest category score.

Table 1 reveals the means for RS and RO as a function of parenting styles. An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA anova

see analysis of variance.

ANOVA Analysis of variance, see there
) was used to determine any differences between the groups. Contrary to the hypothesis, results showed that for the dependent variable of RS, there were no significant differences between the three parenting styles (F (2, 53) = 1.11, p [is greater than] .05). However, for the variable of RO, as predicted, the authoritative parenting condition scored significantly higher than either the authoritarian or permissive parenting conditions with F (2, 53) = 7.41, p [is less than] .01.
Table 1
Means and Standard Eviations for RS
and RO across Parenting Styles

                     RS             RO


Authoratative   104.3 (16.0)   120.2 (17.2)
Authoritarian    97.2 (19.2)   103.6 (17.2)
Permissive       99.2 (7.9)    100.0 (10.5)

Additionally, scores for attachment styles were compared and each participant was assigned an attachment pattern for each parent according to the highest mean of the three categories. With the original 3 X 3 design there were four cells that were empty or n [is less than] 3. Thus, attachment was further categorized as just secure or insecure and parenting styles were grouped into authoritative or non-authoritative resulting in 4 conditions of secure attachment with authoritative parents [Sec/Atat], secure attachment with non-authoritative parents [Sec/NonA], insecure attachment with authoritative parents [Insec/Atat], and insecure attachment with non-authoritative parents [Insec/NonA]. An ANOVA revealed that for the variable of RS, there was a main effect for attachment (F (1,51) = 3.95, p = .05), but not for parenting style (F (1, 51) = 0.01, p [is greater than] .05), and no significant interaction (F (1, 51) = 0.75, p [is greater than] .05 (see Table 2). Post hoc post hoc  
adv. & adj.
In or of the form of an argument in which one event is asserted to be the cause of a later event simply by virtue of having happened earlier:
 tests revealed that the Sec/Atat and Sec/NonA conditions scored significantly higher than the Insec/Atat and Insec/NonA conditions. There were no significant differences within the secure attachment groups nor within the insecure attachment groups. The same pattern of results were found for the variable of RO with a significant main effect of attachment (F (1, 51) = 16.38, p [is less than] .01), but not parenting style (F (1, 51) = 0.18, p [is greater than] .05), and no interaction effect (F (1, 51) = 0.22, p [is greater than] .05).
Table 2
Means and Standard Deviations for RS and RO across
Parenting Styles and Attachment Patters

       Sec/Atat       Sec/NonA      Insec/Atat    Insec/Non A
         n=23           n=2            n=10           n=20

RS   109.8 (10.6)   103.5 (36.1)    92.3 (15.4)    97.2 (15.4)
RO   126.7 (12.9)   127.0 (16.9)   105.5 (18.2)   100.2 (13.4)

Additionally, as hypothesized, 70% of those participants with an authoritative parenting style were securely attached while only 12.5% of those with an authoritarian parenting style were securely attached, and 0% of those with a permissive parenting style were securely attached. A chi-square showed these percentages to be significantly different from each other.

Finally, in order to assure that parenting styles and attachment were not unrelated, a Spearman spear·man  
A man, especially a soldier, armed with a spear.
 rho revealed a correlation of 0.56.


The present study examined the effects of parenting styles on a person's perception of their own relationship qualities and their perception of how other people relate to them interpersonally. We had hypothesized that those persons with authoritative parents would score higher on variables such as warmth, feelings of security, and healthy independence which were predictive of a person's intimacy abilities. Although the scores were in the predicted direction, the primary finding was that those persons with authoritative parents did not have higher self-intimacy abilities than those participants with authoritarian or permissive parents.

Similarly, we hypothesized that the influence of authoritative parents, in contrast to those participants with either authoritarian or permissive parents, would result in more positive perceptions on variables which predicted a person's beliefs about other people's accessibility, trustworthiness, and responsiveness to one's needs. As predicted, participants with authoritative parents did score significantly higher than participants with authoritarian and permissive parents.

These results would imply that parenting styles do not have any influence on a person's self-perceptions of their relationship abilities but do influence how other people are viewed in the same context. One possible explanation for these findings is that parenting styles tend to be involved in discipline situations more than general parent-child interaction and may not be directed toward the child until they are older. Thus, they may be more likely to influence how a child feels about other people while the self-image is formed at an earlier age. This is consistent with the second analysis that showed that the main effects of attachment were significant for both self-perception and feelings about others but there were no main effects of parenting style for either variable. Thus, our hypothesis was not confirmed concerned the proposal that parenting styles and attachment measured similar constructs. Again, it seems that attachment is the decisive factor Noun 1. decisive factor - a point or fact or remark that settles something conclusively

causal factor, determinant, determining factor, determinative, determiner - a determining or causal element or factor; "education is an important determinant of
 in formulating the internal working model and although parenting styles seem to parallel attachment styles, they, in fact, do not. Indeed, while 92% of those participants that are securely attached have authoritative parents, only 70% of the total number of authoritative participants are securely attached. The remainder of the majority of authoritative participants (27%) were ambiguously attached. Therefore, although there seems to be a high overlap of the concepts of attachment and parenting, it is clear that parenting styles do not influence either a person's ability to be intimate or their perception of other people's relationship abilities. Exactly what personal or interpersonal variables are affected by parenting styles awaits further research.


Ainsworth, M.D. (1964). Patterns of attachment behavior shown by the infant in interaction with his mother. Merrill Palmer Quarterly 10, 51-58.

Ainsworth, M.D. (1967). Infancy in uganda: infant care and the growth of love. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Noun 1. Johns Hopkins - United States financier and philanthropist who left money to found the university and hospital that bear his name in Baltimore (1795-1873)


Ainsworth, M. D. & Bell, S. M. (1970). Attachment, exploration, and separation: Illustrated by the behavior of one-year-olds in a strange situation. Child Development, 41, 49-67.

Ainsworth, M., Blehar, M., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1989). Attachments beyond infancy. American Psychologist The American Psychologist is the official journal of the American Psychological Association. It contains archival documents and articles covering current issues in psychology, the science and practice of psychology, and psychology's contribution to public policy. , 44, 709-716.

Baumrind, D. (1966). Effects of authoritative control on child behavior. Child Development, 37(4), 887-907.

Baumrind, D. (1967). Child care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 75(1), 43-88.

Baumrind, D. (1968). Authoritarian vs. authoritative parental control. Adolescence, 3(11), 255-272.

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss. Vol. 1. Attachment. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
: Basic Books.

Bowlby, J. (1988). A secure base: Parent-child attachment and healthy human development. New York: Basic Books.

Bridges, L.J., & Connell, J.P. (1991). Consistency and inconsistency in·con·sis·ten·cy  
n. pl. in·con·sis·ten·cies
1. The state or quality of being inconsistent.

2. Something inconsistent: many inconsistencies in your proposal.
 in infant emotional and social interactive behavior across contexts and caregivers. Infant Behavior and Development, 14, 471-487.

Buelow, G. D., McClain, M., & McIntosh, I. (1996). A new measure for an important construct: The attachment and object relations inventory. Journal of Personality Assessment, 66, 604-623.

Collins, N. L., & Read, S. J. (1990). Adult attachment, working models, and relationship quality in dating couples. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (often referred to as JPSP) is a monthly psychology journal of the American Psychological Association. It is considered one of the top journals in the fields of social and personality psychology.  58, 644-663.

Connor, J.W. (1980). The projected image: The unconscious and the mass media. Journal of Psychoanalytic psy·cho·a·nal·y·sis  
n. pl. psy·cho·a·nal·y·ses
a. The method of psychological therapy originated by Sigmund Freud in which free association, dream interpretation, and analysis of resistance and transference are
 Anthropology; 3(4), 349-376.

Dalton, W. & Frick-Horbury, D. (2001). The effects of paternal PATERNAL. That which belongs to the father or comes from him: as, paternal power, paternal relation, paternal estate, paternal line. Vide Line.  attachment as a predictor of object relations and the perceptions of self and others. Manuscript submited for publication.

Egeland, B. & Sroufe, L.A. (1981). Attachment and early maltreatment. Child Development, 52, 44-52.

Elicker, J., Englund, M, & Sroufe, L.A. (1992). Predicting peer competence and peer relationships in childhood from early parent-child relationships. In R. Parke and G. Ladd (Eds.), Family-Peer Relationships: Modes of Linkage. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Karen, R. (1998). Becoming attached: first relationships and how they shape our capacity to love. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kochanska, G., Kuczymski, L., & Radke, Y. (1989). Correspondence between mothers' self-report and observed child-rearing practices. Child Development, 60, 56-63.

Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1986). [Parental caregiving style questionnaire]. Unpublished questionnaire.

Mikulincer, M., & Erev, I. (1991). Attachment style and the structure of romantic love. British Journal of Social Psychology British Journal of Social Psychology is a journal published by the British Psychological Society (BPS). It publishes original papers on subjects like social cognition, attitudes, group processes, social influence, intergroup relations, self and identity, nonverbal communication, , 30, 273-291.

Robinson, C., Mandleco, B., Olsen, S. & Hart, C. (1995). Authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting practices: Development of a new measure. Psychological Reports, 77, 819-830.

Jennifer Neal, Appalachian State University. Donna Frick-Horbury, Appalachian State University.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Donna Frick-Horbury, Department of Psychology, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608.
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Author:Frick-Horbury, Donna
Publication:Journal of Instructional Psychology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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