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Perceived parental behaviour, self-esteem and happiness


Background: This study set out to determine to what extent recalled parental rearing styles (authoritarian, authoritativeness, permissiveness), personality (extraversion, neuroticism, psychoticism, lie), and self-esteem predicted self-rated happiness in a normal, non-clinical, population of young people in their late teens and early 20s. Methods: Each participant completed a few questionnaires: the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (revised), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Parental Authority Questionnaire and the Oxford Happiness Inventory. It was predicted that sex, extraversion, neuroticism, self-esteem and both maternal and paternal authoritativeness would be significant predictors of happiness. Results: Regressional and path analysis showed self-esteem to be the most dominant and powerful predictor of happiness. The effect of sex on happiness was moderated by neuroticism, which related to self-esteem, which directly influenced happiness. Stability, extraversion and maternal authoritativeness were significant predictors of self-esteem accounting for one-third of the variance. Conclusion: The results are considered in terms of the distinct literature on the relation between personality and happiness and on the relation between parental styles and self-esteem. Self-esteem was both a direct and a moderator variable for young people's self-reported happiness. Extraversion had both direct and indirect predictive power of happiness, whereas neuroticism predicted happiness mediating through self-esteem. Maternal authoritativeness was the only direct predictor of happiness when paternal and maternal rearing styles were examined together, suggesting that a reasonable discipline exercised by mothers towards their children was particularly beneficial in enhancing the off-springs' self-esteem.

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Accepted: 22 June 2000

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Furnham, A., Cheng, H. Perceived parental behaviour, self-esteem and happiness. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol 35, 463–470 (2000).

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  • Parental Behaviour
  • Parental Style
  • Personality Questionnaire
  • Parental Authority
  • Late Teen