Familial Patterns of Intolerance of Uncertainty: Preliminary Evidence in Female University Students

  • Gioia BottesiEmail author
  • Ceren Gürdere
  • Silvia Cerea
  • Claudio Sica
  • Marta Ghisi


The overlap between parent and child psychological distress might be attributed to the intergenerational transmission of intolerance of uncertainty (IU). The current study explored the association between parental and child IU in female university students. Female undergraduates (N = 234) and their parents completed questionnaires assessing IU and psychological distress. First, we tested whether living status (on one’s own vs. with one or both parents) and IU predict psychological distress in undergraduates. Second, we performed between-group comparisons on IU and psychological distress measures. Third, we explored whether the path from parent to child IU is differentially mediated by child psychological distress depending on parental gender. Only IU predicted psychological distress of undergraduates. Daughters reported levels of IU and psychological distress comparable with mothers, but higher than fathers; mothers and fathers did not differ in IU, whereas the former were more psychologically distressed than the latter. Lastly, daughters’ psychological distress partially mediated the path from maternal to child IU, whereas it fully mediated the path from paternal to child IU. Current findings further support the association between IU and psychological distress during college age, and they tentatively suggest that differences in the intergenerational transmission of IU according to parental gender may occur.


Intolerance of uncertainty Cognitive vulnerability Psychological distress Female undergraduates Family study 


Funding Information

The present work was carried out within the scope of the research program Dipartimenti di Eccellenza (art.1, commi 314-337 legge 232/2016), which was supported by a grant from MIUR to the Department of General Psychology, University of Padova.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The research was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and it was approved by the Ethics Committee of Psychological Sciences of University of Padova.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of General PsychologyUniversity of PadovaPaduaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Health Sciences, Psychology SectionUniversity of FirenzeFlorenceItaly

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