Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

DiLalla, Lisabeth


Parenting behaviors have long been recognized as crucial to children’s healthy development. However, examinations of the etiology of these behaviors are less prevalent. The current study investigated the driving forces behind parental warmth and discipline, particularly whether they’re related more to traits within the parent or reactions to characteristics of the child. To explore this question, three robust factors of child temperament – effortful control, negative affectivity, and surgency/extraversion – and parent personality traits were examined in association with parent behaviors through differential parenting within twin pairs. Correlations between differences in temperament within twin pairs and differences in parenting within twin pairs showed that children with higher effortful control received more discipline from parents than their co-twin. Associations between parent behaviors and parent personality found that extraversion and agreeableness in parents were significantly related to parent warmth. Finally, by examining the heritability of temperament and comparing parenting toward monozygotic vs. dizygotic twins, this study clarified the direction of effects and genetic contributions to differential parenting behaviors, supporting previous literature that discipline acts in reaction to the child, whereas warmth is more driven by parent personality. This research begins to elucidate the causes behind parenting behaviors, allowing clinicians and parents to more effectively address the parent-child relationship to correct maladaptive parenting behaviors and encourage healthy and adaptive parenting behaviors, thus promoting positive outcomes for children.




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