Relationships are fundamentally important to society. Individuals require each other for many different purposes, including self esteem. The aim of this study was to gain further experience in the design of a measure and its practical application. Research suggests that parenting styles experienced in childhood have a major impact on levels of self esteem in later life. Authoritative, authoritarian and permissive parenting styles were identified. 73 statements were generated for these styles. After piloting the study on twelve fellow psychology students (eleven females and one male), the range and standard deviation were calculated. Unacceptable statements were removed. 10 questions for each parenting style remained, these were presented as the final questionnaire. This was used in conjunction with the previously created self-esteem questionnaire.
Participants were 11 males and 13 females, aged 16-60years, selected using the opportunity method. A test-retest reliability measure found a correlation of 0.88 for authoritative statements, 0.841 for authoritarian and 0.814 for permissive statements. Modifications would have to be made to reach the 0.9 recommended by Coolican for this reliability test. Data was correlated using a Spearman’s Rho, an arrogance/modesty factor was found to be significant (calculated value = -0.012 n = 10 p<0.05 critical value = 0.564). A Mann Whitney compared self esteem scores for the different parenting styyles. The results were non-significant. This is in marked contrast to the research, suggesting that the measures are flawed.
Reber in his Dictionary of Psychology (1995: 733) states that social psychology ‘concentrates on … relationships … to society as a whole’. These fundamental building blocks for society can be categorised into three types: person – person, person – group, and group – group. At a basic level they serve the purpose of : survival, group relationships can help to overcome many dangerous situations, but also simply allowing heat, food and electricity to reach most members of society.
Sex is obviously of fundamental importance for society, as means of reproduction and also pleasure. Dominance and aggression are required to allow everyone to order themselves within the hierarchy of society, allowing it to ‘knit’ together. The avoidance of loneliness is necessary for the social human. Dependency including emotional support form the basis of what are typically considered relationships. Sources of information and feedback are vital for all people, allowing them to become regulated into the norms of society, hopefully preventing anti-social behaviour.
The way in which these functions work, can be described through the tripartite economic model. Firstly, there is the social exchange theory, based upon the concept of mutuality, where two parties gain from an interaction. Secondly, the equity theory, where a party receives what it deserves. Thirdly, the investment theory states that a party will benefit from ‘investing’ in other people/groups.
Self esteem defined by Aronson, Wilson and Akert is “people’s evaluations of their own self-worth (1998:21). This acts to reassure (in the case of high self esteem) an individual’s perception of his/her place in society, or to create the opposite effect in the case of low self-esteem, perhaps causing an individual to withdraw from society. Cooley 1902 and Mead 1934 (both cited in Daehler 1992: 472) argue that levels of self esteem are caused by the feedback individuals receive from society. Many factors can influence the way that other people see an individual, Harter 1987 (cited in Daehler 1992: 473) states that physical appearance can reduce or increase an individual’s self-esteem, this is mainly because of the bombardment of society with images in the media of a particular type of appearance denoted as beautiful. Harter states that this is more significant in young people. Furthermore, she argues the selection of teams in games lessons at school can heighten positive or negative self-esteem. She found that parents and classmates are more influential than friends or teachers upon school age children. Moreover she found that parental influence does not decrease during the early teens.
Stanley Coopersmith (cited in Dyer Smith and Jackson 1999) examined levels of self-esteem in 10-12 year old boys. He found that those with high self-esteem were ‘expressive … successful … highly interested in public affairs, showed little destructiveness in early childhood and are little troubled by feelings of anxiety. Whereas boys with low self-esteem were ‘a picture of discouragement and depression … they were fearful of … others and shrank away from exposing themselves.
… In … a social group … they remained in the shadows … [becoming more] isolated’. He found that the parental approach was important for increasing levels of self-esteem. Coopersmith’s research infers that levels of self esteem created through experiences as a child move into adult life. As suggested, parent are the main source of influence on young children, therefore parenting styles could be significant in relation to levels of self-esteem.
Diana Baumrind (cited in Dyer Smith and Jackson 1999) classified three main types of parenting style, authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. The former refers to parents who ‘are clearly in control while at the same time encouraging the child to strive for personal autonomy. … There is an expectation of mature behaviour, and clear standards are set’. The authoritarian parenting style however uses ‘strict discipline, and children must follow rules. Obedience is often enforced through harsh punishment. … Emphasis is placed on obedience, respect for authority, and respect for tradition’. Whereas the permissive style uses ‘a minimal amount of punishment and makes few demands on the child to act maturely. Usually the children are left to regulate their own behaviour.
Buri, Louiselle, Misukanis and Mueller in their 1988 study, measured the effects of the three different parenting styles upon levels of self esteem. Using a parental authority questionnaire and a self esteem measure they correlated their findings. They found that authoritative parenting styles result in high self-esteem. Authoritarian parenting styles result in low self-esteem, whilst they found no significant correlation between permissive parenting styles and self-esteem. However past research has found that permissive parenting styles generally result in low self esteem.
In this study, we are going to replicate Buri et al. We will create our own parental authority questionnaire (PAQ) and use their PAQ as an alternate form. We have already created a self esteem measure and will correlate the results for this with our PAQ. It is hypothesised that participants who experienced authoritative parenting styles in childhood, will currently have a significantly high level of self esteem (H1); the null hypothesis for this is that there will be no significant difference between the authoritative parenting style experienced in childhood and the current level of self-esteem (H0a).
Furthermore it is hypothesised that participants who experienced authoritarian parenting styles in childhood, will currently have a significantly low level of self esteem (H2); the null hypothesis for this is that there will be no significant difference between the authoritarian parenting style experienced in childhood and the current level of self esteem (H0b). It is also hypothesised that participants who experienced a permissive parenting style in childhood will currently have a significantly low level of self esteem (H3); the null hypothesis for this is that there will be no significant difference between the permissive parenting style experienced in childhood and the current level of self-esteem (H0c).