The Effects of Parent Attachment and Parenting Styles on Decision-Making in College Students [Susquehanna University]


  • Jenna Nicole Wasarhelyi Susquehanna University
  • Benjamin John Susquehanna University
  • Bryce Long Susquehanna University
  • Gretchen S. Lovas Susquehanna University



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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Author Biographies

Jenna Nicole Wasarhelyi, Susquehanna University

I am a senior psychology student from Susquehanna University. I am attending the University of Pittsburgh this Fall 2019 to begin earning my Masters in Social Work.

Benjamin John, Susquehanna University


Gretchen S. Lovas, Susquehanna University




How to Cite

Wasarhelyi, J. N., John, B., Long, B., & Lovas, G. S. (2019). The Effects of Parent Attachment and Parenting Styles on Decision-Making in College Students [Susquehanna University]. Journal of Student Research.