The Effects of Parent Attachment and Parenting Styles on Decision-Making in College Students [Susquehanna University]
Keywords:Attachment, Parenting Styles, Decision-Making, College Students
College students face many decisions that can shape the course of their future lives. Individual differences in decision-making styles affect the quality of students’ choices. The impact of personality on decision-making is well researched; little research explores the impact of parent attachment and parenting styles. Attachment with parents provides a sense of basic security or insecurity; parenting style impacts the child’s sense of autonomy and confidence. We explored the effects of parent attachment, parenting styles, and two personality variables on decision-making in college students. We hypothesized that low levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance, and high levels of authoritative parenting, conscientiousness, and impulse control, would predict positive decision-making styles. Students (N = 80) at a small liberal arts university completed a survey that measured parent attachment (anxiety, avoidance; Fraley, et al. 2011), parenting styles (authoritative, authoritarian, permissive; Buri 1991), conscientiousness and impulse control (Goldberg, 1999), and decision-making (avoidant, dependent, intuitive, rational, spontaneous; Scott & Bruce, 1995). Preliminary analyses explored the impacts of age and gender. Primary analyses consisted of stepwise regressions on decision-making styles. Age had no effects; there were student and parent gender differences. As expected, conscientiousness and impulse control predicted more positive and less negative decision-making, avoidance toward the father less positive and more negative decision-making, avoidance toward the mother more negative decision-making, and authoritarian mothering more negative decision-making. Unexpectedly, authoritative mothering predicted less positive and more negative decision-making and authoritarian fathering more positive decision-making. Our results suggest that parent attachment and parenting styles do influence decision-making styles. Our regressions explained 23%-36% of the variance for four of the five decision-making styles. Limitations of our study included a small sample and limited personality variables. We believe the impact of parent attachment and parenting styles on decision-making warrants further exploration with a larger sample and widened range of variables.
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