Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 2305–2314 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Parental Psychopathic Traits and Parenting Style

  • Jennifer Cox
  • Megan R. Kopkin
  • James A. Rankin
  • Theodore S. Tomeny
  • C. Adam Coffey
Original Paper


Surprisingly little research has examined the role of parental psychopathic traits in the parent-child relationship. We aimed to gain a better understanding of how parental psychopathic traits are related to parenting style and to determine whether specific parental psychopathic traits are differentially related to parenting behaviors. A sample of male and female parents from a community population completed the Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised (PPI-R) as well as a modified version of the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ). Path analyses predicting PAQ subscales from PPI-R factors indicated poor model fit. However, path analyses examining PAQ and PPI-R subscales indicated good model fit, with PPI-R subscales explaining 20–25% of variance in PAQ subscale scores. Surprisingly, PAQ Authoritative parenting was significantly predicted by the greatest number of PPI-R facets, including Carefree Nonplanfulness, Coldheartedness, Rebellious Nonconformity (all positive) and Fearlessness (negative). Rebellious Nonconformity also positively predicted PAQ Permissive parenting, and negatively predicted PAQ Authoritative Parenting. Results suggest parental psychopathic traits may be associated with specific parenting styles, although future research should consider potential moderating variables.


Psychopathy Psychopathic traits Parenting style Fearless dominance Self-centered impulsivity 


Author Contributions

JC: collaborated with the design of the study, oversaw data collection, and wrote the paper. MRK: collaborated with the design of the study and writing of the study. JR: analyzed the data and wrote the results. TST: Collaborated in writing and editing of the final manuscript. CAC: collaborated with the design of the study and editing of the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Research Involving Human Participants

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of The University of Alabama’s Institutional Review Board and with the 1954 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Cox
    • 1
  • Megan R. Kopkin
    • 1
  • James A. Rankin
    • 1
  • Theodore S. Tomeny
    • 1
  • C. Adam Coffey
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyThe University of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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