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Does Parenting Style Influence Self-esteem and Self-regulation in Undergraduate Students?

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Published: 11th Dec 2019

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Does Parenting Style Influence Self-esteem and Self-regulation in Undergraduate Students?


Parents often have significant influences on the development of their child during their early years and throughout their living life. One of the areas of influence relate to the psychological development of the child and how they develop an understanding of themselves and how they feel about themselves and their abilities. The current study aimed to investigate the influence of parenting style on undergraduate student’s self-esteem and self-regulation levels. The study used the Parental Bonding instrument, Self-Esteem Scale, and Self-Regulation Questionnaire to investigate a possible association. The study found no significant influence of parenting style on undergraduate students. Numerous possibilities are detailed to explain the possible insignificant results relating to socio-economic statuses and ethnic backgrounds of participants which were detailed in previous studies. The current study adds to the debate between limited studies investigating the influence of parenting styles on the development of self-esteem and self-regulation of undergraduate students.


Does Parenting Style Influence Self-esteem and Self-regulation in Undergraduate Students?


Parents often have significant influences on the development of their child during their early years and throughout their living life. One of the areas of influence relate to the psychological development of the child and how they develop an understanding of themselves and how they feel about themselves and their abilities. A key psychological factor which often varies between individuals is self-esteem. Throughout the years, self-esteem has received numerous definitions relating to a personal judgement of self and sense of worth based on criteria, consisting of judgements and assumptions from society relating to family values and success and failure (Hooks, 2003). Similar to this, self-esteem has also been described as a personal evaluation of the individual’s self-worth and value, which encompasses areas of confidence, self-efficacy, and appreciation of an individual right to be happy (Zakeri & Karimpour, 2011). The development of a child’s self-esteem is seen as a vital role in human development and as a basic motivator in humans, with some studies suggesting that parents can be deemed successful or unsuccessful based upon their child’s level of self-esteem (Driscoll, 2012). Some discussion in the literature has argued whether self-esteem can influence social outcomes in an individual, which could further stress the importance of this factor in child development. Previous authors (i.e. Scheff & Fearon, 2004; Crocker & Park, 2004) have critiqued the influence of self-esteem on social outcomes, however a recent study by Swann Jr, Chang-Schneider, & Larsen McClarty (2007) has found evidence that an individual’s self-esteem and self-efficacy does influence social outcomes in some sense.  The study found that individuals who have negative views upon themselves tend to demonstrate negative behaviours which reduce their quality of life, further reducing their belief of their abilities and self-worth.                                                                                                                Numerous authors have attempted to understand the principles of self-esteem and why individual’s levels of self-esteem differ. In this time, numerous theories have been developed in an attempt to understand what could influence perceptions of self-esteem and self-worth, with one being the Sociometer Theory.

Sociometer Theory

The Sociometer theory proposes that self-esteem is a barometer of an individual’s past, present, and future relationship values (Leary & Baumeister, 2000), which aims to understand the differences in self-esteem (Anthony, Wood, & Holmes, 2007). Individuals who exhibit low self-esteem have been linked with attachment insecurities, the need to belong, and rejection sensitivity which often leave many doubts and worries in the mind of the individual (Bellavia & Murray, 2003; Campbell, Simpson, Boldry, & Kashy, 2005; Pickett, Gardner, & Knowles, 2004; Murray S. L., 2005; Pietrzak, Downey, & Ayduk, 2005), whereas people who exhibit high self-esteem tend to feel that they are, were, and will be valued by peers (Murray, Holmes, & Collins, 2006). Low levels of self-esteem have also been reported to reflect the fragile nature of individuals, who tend to have vulnerable feelings of immediate self-worth which is influenced by self-relevant events which are externally generated or self-generated, often leading to outbursts of anger, hostility, depression, and defensiveness (Foster, Kernis, & Goldman, 2007; Kernis, Brown, & Brody, 2000).                             This theory was discussed in a study by Anthony, Holmes, and Wood (2007) who identified two primary implications for the .crossing point between an individual’s self-esteem level and their ability to socialise with others. Anthony expands that self-esteem is affected by specific instances of acceptance and/or rejection which can, over a long-term period, influence an individual’s social experience and perceived global self-esteem. The second implication indicated that the changes in high and low self-esteem can influence an individual’s belief and social motivations, in a sense of commonly displaying less confidence in social situations and perceive a lower self-worth (Murray, Holmes, & Collins, 2006).

Parenting Styles

Darling and Steinberg (1993) investigated parenting styles and conceptualised as a group of attitudes towards a child which create an emotional climate where the parent’s behaviours are expressed within the child’s environment. These parenting styles are examined by the child as they grow into adolescents and adulthood and develops the child based upon the behaviours, strategies, and ideologies of the parents (Lightfoot, Cole, & Cole, 2009).                                                                                                                                                                         Parenting styles were identified during a study by Steinberg, Lamborn, Dornbusch, and Darling (1992), after earlier work by Baumrind (1971), and stated three parenting styles exist consisting of acceptance-involvement, psychological autonomy-granting, and behavioural strictness-supervision. The earlier study from Baumrind conducted numerous interviews with parents and children and concluded that three levels of parenting are authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. The authoritarian would follow the behavioural strictness-supervision within the Steinberg et al., study whilst authorative would follow the acceptance-involvement, with permissive following psychological autonomy-granting.

Acceptance-involvement relates to parents which tend to be warm, firm, involved within the development of the child, and sensitive to the needs of the child and how these change as the child develops and grows. The parents tend to set realistic standard and clear rules with the child to aid developing appropriate behaviours and attitudes. This parenting style is based on the perception of attention paid to the child and the responsiveness of the parents (Jaffe, 1998). Within Baumrind perspectives, the authorative parenting style would look to offer opportunities of reasoning to their child whilst allowing them to have their own opinions in a greater light than would be allowed by authoritarian parenting styles. If the parent encounters an issue with the child, the parent is open to talk to the child about the issue rather than allowing no discussion and punishing the child without a second thought.

Psychological autonomy-granting see parent’s tolerance toward their child’s opinion, often using democratic discipline within the relationship with their child and don’t push their child to be compliant with the rules. Within Baumrind perspectives, the permissive parenting style allows for parents to act more responsively and demand less from their child. Parents tend to have high levels of nurture with their child and tend to not punish their child regularly but continue to have a strong bond and communicative relationship.

A behavioural strictness-supervision parenting styles will see parents set specific standards of conduct which their child must abide by, with specific focus on behaviours and attitudes which the child must demonstrate. The parents have full control over the child and ultimately shapes their behaviour, without allowing the child to display and express their own opinions or how minimal opportunities to think about situations or demonstrate the ability to reason (Baumrind, 1996; Knight, et al., 2000).

A study by Zakeri and Karimpour (2011) found parenting styles to influence adolescent self-esteem, with particular reference to acceptance-involvement and psychological autonomy-granting styles which were found to be positive predictors of self-esteem. The study reported higher levels of self-esteem in adolescents whose parents offered greater opportunities for control and acceptance than adolescents whose parents had greater control over the child’s actions, beliefs, and behaviours. These findings support previous work by Scholte, Van Lieshout, & Van Aken (2001) which found adolescents with medium to high levels of percieved parental support to indicate higher levels of self worth and self-esteem.


Self-regulation refers to the degree which individuals, or in this case students, are metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviourally active participants in their own learning process, where the individual takes control and directs their time and effort into acquiring knowledge and skill independently rather than relying on parents, teachers, or another form of aid (Zimmerman B. , 1986). Self-regulation is a casual process which mediates most external influences and provides a basis for purposeful action (Bandura,1991). Self-regulation operates through numerous psychological sub functions which are developed and mobilised for self-directed change and often play a crucial role in the behaviours and attitudes towards activities which can determine devotion or termination within an activity. Bandura and Simon (1977) regarded this suggestion in a sense that neither the intention nor desire alone will have a great effect if individuals lack the capability for exercising influence over their motivations and behaviours towards activities. Self-regulation is extremely important within an education setting as it is seen as a major function of education and within the development of life-long learning skills (Zimmerman, 2002).

The social cognitive theory is viewed as a knowledge acquisition which is achieved through cognitive processes of information, where the social element relates to the knowledge of the environmental origins of human thought, processes, and actions, whilst cognitive recognises the significant contribution of cognitive processes to human motivation and action which underlies their capability and desires to complete set tasks, goals, and dreams (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1979). The social cognitive theory of self-regulation is said to have three subcategories of self-regulated learning strategies, self-efficacy, perceptions of performance skill, and commitment to academic goals (Zimmerman, 1989). Self-regulated learning strategies are individual actions and processes which a student adopts to acquire information or a specific set of skills which involve agency and purpose which could include methods such as organising and transforming information, self-consequating, researching information, and rehearsing or using a memory aid to further learning and individual development (Zimmerman & Matrinez-Pons, 1988). Self-efficacy refers to perceptions relating to an individual’s ability to complete a task and their capabilities to organise and implement actions which are critical to demonstrate individual capabilities. Undergraduate students tend to have goals such as good grades, attendance, and to develop their knowledge in both theoretical and practical senses to allow their capabilities to be developed to a level which allows the student to progress into their desired career fields (Bandura,1986). The social cognitive theory suggests that individuals have triangular influences from the individual, environment, and behaviours which could influence an individual’s motivation. Figure 1.Displays the triadic influence of the social cognitive theory. As human behaviour has often been explained in terms of unidirectional causation, behaviour has been depicted as being either shaped or constructed by the environmental influences and structures. However, not all environments are the same. Bandura (1999) described the environment to not be a huge entity, where social cognitive theory clearly distinguishes three environmental structures including imposed, selected, and constructed environment. Bandura suggested that each of these environments represent stages of variableness which require the individual to increase their levels of personal agency within environments which they are placed in whether they are through choice or not. (Bandura, 1999).

Some authors have argued that within the modern realm of mobile phones, tablets, computers, and portable music devices, students have a greater challenge in developing their self-regulated behaviour into their academic studying effectively to allow them to perform to greater levels (Zimmerman, 2002). Self-regulated learners tend to approach tasks with confidence, diligence, and resourcefulness whilst demonstrating a sound knowledge of what they do know and what they do not and construct methods of developing these areas. Self-regulated learners are said to seek out information proactively and aim to master areas by setting goals as well as numerous other methods (Zimmerman, 1990). Previously, self-regulated learning has been described as a self-oriented feedback loop which involves a recurring process which allows learners to monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of their learning methods and allows an opportuntity for reflection and evaluation of these methods (Carver & Scheier, 1981; Zimmerman, 1989). Although the modern day does have numerous distractions avaliable to students, there are still numerous opportunties avalaible to develop self-regulated behaviour across different educational levels. However, with authors making this point, it would be said that this would then propose individuals from a lower socio-economic class would be able to develop greater self-regulated behaviour due to a likely lesser opportunity to access such distractions.

Aims and Hypothesis

The current study aims to explore the positive and/or negative correlations amongst parenting style, self-regulation, and self-esteem and to observe any potential relationship between the variables. The null hypothesis for the current study states that parenting style will not affect undergraduate’s self-regulation or self-esteem. The researcher predicts that the results will find a significant correlation between parenting style and self-esteem, and parenting style and self-regulation. These predictions are based on previous literature supporting the assumption that the use of different parenting styles has been found to influence a child’s self-esteem and self-regulation.

The results from the current study will aid in developing a further, more concise overview of the importance of parenting style through childhood to develop areas of confidence, self-esteem, and self-regulation to allow children to develop as healthy humans, as depicted in previous studies (Anthony, Wood, & Holmes, 2007). Further to this, the study may produce evidence of a more beneficial parenting style, and the possibility of a style having a negative effect on participants.



A correlational design was employed; the variables of interest were parenting style, self-esteem and self-regulation. Data was explored using a Pearson’s correlational analyses as well as a Multiple Regression analyses.


The participants were male and female volunteers who were studying a degree at the University of Roehampton and were in either their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year of their course. A total of 102 male and females agreed to participate in the study and were provided with details relating to the studies aims, objectives, and content. Each participant completed a informed consent form, and were informed of their right to withdraw from the study at any point. The participants acknowledged their right to withdraw by completing the informed consent form. The age range of participants was age 18-32.


The study used three questionnaires to measure the participant’s self-regulation, self-efficacy, and parental bonding with their mother and father. Each measure was assessed for validity and reliability to ensure its appropriateness in the current study.


Each participant provided demographic information via a questionnaire relating to age, current year within university, the university program they were registered to, ethnicity, the field of employment their mother and father was currently (or previously) involved in, marital status, and number of siblings they had.


The Self-regulation questionnaire was developed by Brown, Miller, and Lawendowski (1999) as an attempt to assess self-regulatory processes using self-report instrument. Previous studies have found the self-regulation questionnaire to be very reliable, with test-retest validity found to be high during a study from Aubrey, Brown, and Miller (1994), were the self-regulation questionnaire received a score of r = -.94, p < .0001, and an internal consistency score α = .91, which was ranked high. The self-regulation questionnaire has previously shown strong convergent validity, which supports its use in the current study. The self-regulation questionnaire consists of 63 items which are answered using a 5-point Likert scale of strongly disagree, disagree, uncertain or unsure, agree, or strongly agree. The scale has 7 subscales of receiving, evaluating, triggering, searching, planning, implementing, and assessing which are equally addressed during the questionnaire.

Self-esteem Scale

The Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale is a ten-item Likert-scale which is graded on a four-point scale of strongly agree, agree, disagree, and strongly disagree. The scale was developed by Rosenberg (1965) who was investigating society and the adolescent self-image. This measure of self-esteem has been frequently used within the literature and has been deemed a one-dimensional measure of self-esteem, being classed as the standard against new measures of self-esteem. It has been suggested that some of the success and popularity of this scale is due to its strong cross-cultural validity (Bagley, Bolitho, & Bertrand, 1997) and its reliability and validity as a measure of global self-esteem (Roth, Decker, Herzberg, & Brahler, 2008). The measure included positive and negative worded expressions of self-esteem. Participants answered each expression on a 4-point scale ranging from 0 (strongly disagree) to 3 (strongly agree. The self-esteem scale has been used on numerous occasions within the current sample and has had internal consistency scores range from .85 to .88 (McKinney & Renk, 2008).

Parenting Style

Several studies have noted the reliability and validity of implementing the parental bonding instrument to observe how adults remember the behaviour of their parents within the first 16 years of their life. A study from Parker, Tupling, and Brown (1979) found the parental bonding instrument to have good internal consistency and test-retest reliability (Avagianou & Zafiropoulou, 2008), with a further study adding adequate construct and convergent validity (Parker,1983). The parental bonding instrument is a self-report questionnaire consisting of 25 items describing how a participant remembers their parent’s attitudes during the first 16 years of their life. Two scores are obtained relating to care and control.


Approval for this study was granted by the University of Roehampton board of ethics committee. This study was constructed using Qualtrics software (Qualtrics®, Provo, UT)  to upload the survey which consisted of the consent form for the participants to complete, as well as providing the participants with debrief forms. The survey used on Qualtrics was linked with a programme called SONA which is associated with the University of Roehampton and allowed the participants to sign up for the study in return for gaining 0.5 extra credits towards their course. The participants had a choice to participate in this study investigating the effect of parenting style on undergraduate student’s self-esteem and self-regulation. If participants agreed to take part, they were able to complete the studies consent form by selecting a tick box and were asked to create a unique user identification which included seven numeric and letter characters. Using this program allowed for a sample respective of the population and to gain a good sample size for gaining a clear understanding of the population and how parenting styles had influenced their self-esteem and self-regulation levels.

It was estimated that time to completion would take approximately 30 minutes, and this is how the extra credit was calculated. Prior to completing the questionnaires, the participants completed a demographics questionnaire to allow the researcher to gain an overview of the characteristics of the population investigated. Each of the questionnaires explained how to complete the questionnaire accurately, relating to the scoring key implemented.

Participants were informed of any risks they may face during their participation within the current study and of their right to withdraw at any stage without consequence during the study. SONA credits were awarded to participants who completed the study and participants were reminded that their answers to the questionnaires would only be available to the researcher and their supervisor and all information collected would be stored for 18 months securely. Once participants had completed the consent form and had confirmed they were 18 years or over, they were directed to the demographics questionnaire.

Once a participant had completed the study, each participant was directed to the debrief which detailed how their data would be used and if they felt they were struggling with any psychological stress due to taking part in the study, they were given details relating to student services which could assist them. If the participant required additional support, the details of the researcher, supervisor, and head of department were included in this document.

Statistical Analysis

Statistical analysis was conducted using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) v21 (IBM, New York, USA). A Pearsons Correlation was conducted initially to form the basis of a Multiple Regression. The Pearsons correlation allowed for an observation of a possible significant positive or negative linear relationship between the testing variables. The current study hypothesised that parental style will influence self-esteem and self-regulation of undergraduate students, so it would be suggested that a positive relationship exists between at least one of the parenting styles and self-esteem and self-regulatory scores from the self-report measures. A multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the associations and ability to predict scores of self-esteem and self-regulation and parenting styles. During the multiple regression, the relationship between the different parenting styles and each individual variable were assessed and investigated further. The alpha was set at .05.


The current study had a total of 102 male (18.6%) and female (81.4%) participants aged 18 to 38 (20.15±3.33) who were in either 1st year (55.9%), 2nd year (37.3%), or 3rd year (6.9%) of an undergraduate degree within fashion (2%), business (1%), health and social care (1%), law with psychology (1%), Psychology (61.9%), Psychology and counselling (20.6%), Psychology and criminology (1.0%), or sport psychology (8.9%). Numerous ethnicities were present in the population, with white British (33.3%), white Irish (2.0%), White other background (14.7%), White and Black Caribbean (2.9%), White and Black African (2.0%), Indian (7.8%), Pakistani (10.8%), Bangladeshi (4.9%), Other Asian background (2.0%), Caribbean (3.9%), African (8.8%), Other Black background (1.0%), Chinese or Chinese British (1.0%), Other ethnic background (2.0%), and some participants preferred to not disclose their ethnicity (2.9%). Most participants were single (98%), and a small quantity of married or divorced participants (1.0%). Finally, participants were asked if they had any siblings, a range of 0-10 was collected, with the majority of participants having either 1 (29.4%), 2 (25.5%), or 3 (18.6%) siblings. Data on the participant’s parent’s occupation was also collected. The employment of each participant’s fathers varied, with occupations including areas of business (18%), building services (16%), driving roles (14%), Retail (2%), Management (6%), self-employed business owners (10%), security services (3%), IT roles (3%), other industries (35.9%), unemployed (1%), or participants reported to not be sure what their father did for a job (5%). The participant’s mother’s occupations varied similar to the fathers, with some occupations including business (9%), school based (15%), administration (5%), health (15%), care (8%), management (6%), therapy (2%), other (17%). Retail (5%), retired (1%), unemployed (14%), and some participants did not disclose the employment status of their mother (5%). The parental bonding instrument identified fathers to show more affectionless control (57%) followed by neglectful parenting (37%), and optimal parenting (6%) with no fathers demonstrating affectionate constraint. The instrument found mothers to follow the fathers and demonstrate a predominant affectionless control parenting style (68%) followed by neglectful parenting (15%), optimal parenting (11%), and affectionate constraint (6%). The self-regulation instrument found 40% of the participants to have an impaired self-regulation, with 39% having a moderate self-regulation, and 21% having an intact self-regulation. To consider the levels of participant’s self-esteem, the range of scores was observed and an average score was calculated, with any score below this being deemed low and anything above being deemed high. The average score was calculated to be 17.29, which saw scores lower than 17 deemed to be high and any score 18 and above was deemed high. The study saw a high proportion of low self-esteem participants (59%) compared to high self-esteem (41%). These totals are displayed in table 1.

Table 1. Percentage of parental styles of mothers and fathers calculated using the Parental Bonding Instrument

A Pearsons correlation was conducted to observe the association between parenting style father (2.80±.953), parenting style mother (2.35±0.81) and self-esteem (17.04±2.57) and self-regulation (1.81±0.76) of the undergraduate students. Self-esteem was found to have a positive small association with self-regulation (r = .143, p = .155) and parenting style mother (r = .120, p = .236), and a negative small correlation with parenting style father (r = -.174, p = .083). Self-regulation was found to have a positive small correlation with parenting style father (r = .142, p = .159) and a negative very small correlation with parenting style mother (r = -.055, p = .587). When observing both parental conditions to see a possible association, it was found that parental bonding mother and father had a negative very small correlation (r = -.013, p = .897) which indicates there was no association between the variables. Once again, no significant data was found to support the hypothesis that parenting styles influence the self-esteem and self-regulation levels demonstrated by undergraduate students. The association between self-regulation and self-esteem was inspected, with the expected result identifying a relationship between the variable. Figure 2.Displays the findings. An unexpected finding found that individuals who scored high in self-esteem did not necessarily score high in self-regulation. The Pearsons correlation found a positive small correlation between self-esteem and self-regulation (r = .143, p = .155, ns) but was not deemed to be significant supporting the unexpected finding that self-regulation score does not predict self-esteem score.

Figure 2.The comparison of self-regulation and self-esteem scores. (17.29±3.12) (216.71±24.50). No significant relationship was observed

A multiple regression was conducted to observe a possible association between parenting style and undergraduate student’s levels of self-esteem and self-regulation. Prior to investigating the results, the researcher reviewed the results to check for acceptance of the assumptions. Firstly, an analysis of the standard residuals was conducted to identify any outliers from the data set and found that participants 22 and 91 had to be removed. The tests were then conducted again to reassess the acceptance of the assumption. The second analysis found that the data contained no outliers in self-regulation conditions (STD residual min = -1.543, STD residual max = 1.937) or self-esteem (STD residual min = -2.328, STD residual max = 2.478). The histogram of standardised residuals indicated that the data contained normally distributed errors as well as showing this in the normal P-P plot of standardised residuals which illustrated the dots being close to the line, but not completely on for PBIM, PBIF, and self-regulation. However, as seen in the test for normal distribution, the scatterplot of standardised residuals show that the self-esteem condition did not meet the assumption of homogeneity. Finally, analysis to examine the assumption of non-zero variances found all conditions met this assumption (Self-esteem, Variances = 7.0*1, PBIF, Variances = 1.0*1, PBIM, variances = 1.0*1, Self-regulation, variances = 1.0*[1]).

Using the enter method, the study found that parenting style did not influence self-esteem (F (2,97) = .2.233, p = .113, ns, R2 = .044, R2Adjusted = .024) or self-regulation (F (2,97) = 1.140, p = .324, ns, R2 = .023, R2Adjusted = .003). The analysis shows that parenting style from the father did not significantly predict self-esteem levels (Beta = -.172, t(97) = -1.737, p = .086, ns) or self-regulation in undergraduate students (Beta = .141, t (97) = 1.407, p = .163, ns). The analysis also showed similar results of no significance when predicting undergraduate student’s self-esteem levels (Beta = .117, t (97) = 1.181, p = .240, ns) or self-regulation (Beta = -.053, t (97) = -.529, p = .598, ns) from the mothers parenting style. The correlations between the variables can be seen in table 2.


The current study aimed to investigate the association amongst parenting style, self-regulation, and self-esteem as well as observing any potential relationship between the variables. The null hypothesis for the current study stated that parenting style will not affect undergraduate’s self-regulation or self-esteem. The researcher predicted that the results will find a significant association between parenting style and self-esteem, and parenting style and self-regulation. The current study found in favour of acceptance of the null hypothesis as no significant association was found between parenting styles of either the mother or father and undergraduate student’s self-esteem and self-regulation. Adding to this, no significant relationship was observed between self-esteem and self-regulation scores.

Contrary to previous research, the current study found no evidence that parenting style influenced the self-esteem and self-regulation levels of undergraduate students which leads to the suggestion that other variables may play a further part in the development of these factors. Firstly, the current study found none of the variables to predict self-efficacy score which is in contrast to previous research from Scholte, Van Lieshout, and Van Aken (2001) and Zakeri and Karimpour (2011). A possible understanding for this comes from a study Herz & Gullone, 1999) who stressed the importance of taking cultural context into account when examing the interrelationships among psychological constructs such as self-esteem. The current study has a wide range of cultures and ethniticites who agreed to participate, which could explain why these differences have been found. A study from Milevsky, et al., (2007) is an example of a study who also utilised the Rosenberg Self-esteem scale (1965) and found in support of parental style to influence self-esteem in both maternal and paternal conditions. However, in contrast to the current study, the Milevsky study used adolescents which could affect the results given from each study. Adding to this, the cultures and ethnicities used within their study are a lot less ranged than what is in the current study. The difference between the age groups influencing the results is further supported by Trumpeter, et al., (2008) who found self-esteem to be influence by parenting style in some conditions during their study utilising undergraduate students. The study found no significant correlation with self-esteem and exploitativeness/entitlement, but self-esteem was influenced by individual parental characteristics such as fathers emphatic concern and love inconsistency and a mothers love inconcsistency and perspective taking. This would suggest that perhaps further investigation into parenting styles such as individual characteristics which has been used in this study through the inclusion of numerous questionnaires to gain a fuller insight into the individual variables which influence self-esteem in undergraduate students. Although the current study found no significant correlations or associations between the variables, self-esteem was almost statistically significant (p = .083) and was rated higher than any other condition suggesting that possibly the fathers parenting style may have more of an influence on the undergraduate students than did the mothers parenting style. This may be due to differences in gender-based parenting styles and attitudes.

Some studies have investigated the differences in parenting styles based on gender (male vs. female) which takes into account the theory of sex-based parenting differences such as the sex role theory and role theory. The sex role theory (Bem, 1974) associates with the Bem Sex-Role Inventory which opens the door for empirical research on psychological androgyny and investigated whether masculinity and femininity were individual or if individuals could possess traits from both masculinity and femininity during different situations (Hoffman & Borders, 2001).Similarly, role theory investigates the differences in parenting styles and attitudes between mothers and fathers and assesses how they may emerge (Hosley & Montemayor, 1997). In this theory, mothers are seen as cargivers where as fathers are seen more as the disciplinarian. In the current study, both mothers and fathers seemed to favor the affectionless control parenting style which would not be expected in either the sex role or role theory. However, it is possible to determine mothers as the more caring parent, as the current study saw higher percentages of affectionate constraint and less neglectful parenting compared to fathers. Mothers also recorded higher percentages of optimal parenting styles than fathers. This would suggest that females tend to be more of a caregiver as seen within the role theory. The current study found the least adopted parenting styles to be affectionate constraint and optimal parenting, with neflectful parenting ranking firmly behind affectionless control styles of parenting. This may suggest that most parents are more protective of their children rather than more caring, or possibly as this questionnaire requires reflection from the participants, it may perhaps be that participants remember specific behaviours more than others such as protective characterisitics more than caring which their parents demonstrated. In contrast to the findings of the current studies findings, McKinney and Renk (2008) found a significant difference between mother and fathers parenting styles as ranked by their late adolescent children, arguing that mothers demonstrate more authoritative and permissive parenting and fathers demonstrating more authoritarian parenting. It would be suggested that more research is required to develop a clear and concise understanding of the differences between the parenting styles which mothers and fathers adopt.

Numerous factors could potentially influence self-esteem and self-regulation of individuals at the lifestage they are currently at as well as through their development phases. Magnusson (1998) stated that the development processes each individual completes cannot be understood by single variables in isolation from each other, perhaps suggesting that more variables should be considered in future studies to gain a greater understanding of the influences of parental styles and other factors to understand how self-esteem can be influenced. One of these factors has previously been identified as ethnic identity. Some studies (Parham & Helms, 1985; Phinney & Chavira, 1992) have argued that ethnicity has a small to moderative positive correlation with self-esteem, which could explain the variances in the current study due to the mix of ethnicities used within the sample. Gray-Little and Hafahl (2000) added that black adolescents tend to have higher self-esteem than white adolescents, reiterating the differences between races. A further factor relates to socio-economic status. Self-esteem and socio-economic status are two of the most important and frequently examined psychological and sociological variables (Twenge & Campbell, 2002). Socio-economic status has often been related to cultural views and tendencies which could explain further differences in individualism (Oyserman, Coon, & Kemmelmeier, 2002; van der Berg, Mond, Eisenberg, Ackard, & Neumark-Sztainer, 2010). The current study did not consider these factors and could be a point for improvements to the current study or for reference for future studies.

The current study found parenting styles of mothers and fathers to not influence self-regulation which contrasted against previous literature. A previous study by Vahedi, Mostafafi, and Mortazabaja (2009) found authoriative parenting to be positively associated with self-regulation in the short term and unsupportive parenting to be negatively associated with self-regulation.Similar to the current study, this study used a similar population which allows for closer comparison of the results. The Vahedi study focused more on predicting undergraduate students procrastination than their self-regulation so it is possible that less attention was given to participants self-regulation which could explain the variance in results. Adding to this, the study included only first year undergraduate students and did not mention the course studied or any other demographic details which could have caused key data to be left from the study to explain the results further. The current study collected a significant amount of demographic detail which allowed for explanation and investigation into the results.

The literature relating directly to undergraduate students self-regulation and their parents style and attitudes of parenting are scarce which suggests that more research is required in the area. The current study adds to the understanding of how parenting style influences undergraduate students self-regulation, in the sense that the effect is minimal if non-existant. Although some studies would disagree with this finding, a lot of the literature does not consider some key factors which can influence individuals self-regulation, which similar to self-esteem, can relate to demographics such as ethnicity and socio-economic status.

An interesting point which future researchers may consider is the changes in self-regulation of students and their course they enroll onto, such as online courses versus attending lectures, and if parenting style effects the students self-regulation and further if parenting style could be used to predict the liklihood of a student choosing to complete an online course more than a attendance course. A previous study by Artino Jr & Stephens (2009) investigated the differences in self-regulated learning when students choose a online course, and found that graduate students exhibitied more adaptive self-regulation learning profiles. It would be considered important to investigate these findings further to identify if there are differences in self-regulation between online and attendance based courses.

As the current study found no significant influence of parenting styles on self-esteem and self-regulation of undergraduate students, the practical applications are limited. The study did find the fathers parenting style to be more influential than the mothers which may suggest that the father may play a more vital role in developing these areas than the mother, although not to a level of significance. The majority of participants in this study reported that both the mother and father adopted affectionless control parenting styles which sees parents provide high levels of protection and low levels of care. This may suggest that parents who use this style of parenting tend to have less influence on their child’s psychological development meaning other factors such as social and environment may influence this more in children, leading to the development of self-esteem and self-regulation in environments such as school and friendship groups which would be a future area of consideration to investigate to provide further clarity in understanding what influences the development of an individual’s self-esteem and self-regulation.

The current study found no signficant influence of parenting styles on undergraduate students self-esteem and self-regulation, and encountered some weaknesses. Firstly, the study may be concerned to have generalisability of its findings. The sample was convienent to the researcher and was online based which allowed for a wide reach of individuals to complete. The sample consisted of a population from one british university where the majority of participants were enrolled on a form of psychology course, aged between 18 and 65 and were either in first, second, or third year of their degree course. The ethnicities were very varied which may, upon further investigation, allow for further understanding of ethnicity influences self-esteem and self-regulation and parenting styles.

A further limitation of the current study is that the study did not consider extra factors such as socio-economic status or race when interpreting the results. The demographics form was able to gain data relating to the ethnicity of participants, but no information was gathered based on the socio-economic status of participants which has previously been found to influence self-esteem of individuals. Finally, the study used only self-report measures which were based online. As the study was based online, it can not be guaranteed that the questionnaires were completed accurately or truthfully or that the participants who were answering the questions were answering the questions correctly, meaning that the question was fully understood. As participants were rewarded with extra credit points, it is possible that they participants rushed through the questionnaires and did not provide an appropraite amount of time to truly consider their answers or ratings to each question which could explain the variance in results.

To summarise, the current study found no significant influence of parenting style on undergraduate student’s self-esteem and self-regulation levels. Numerous reasons could explain the insignificant result, which was found to be in contrast to some previous researcher’s work which has found a link between the variables. However, when reviewing the literature, the researcher found a lack of information relating to the current studies population, and often when the population was considered, the range of ethnicities/races has not been as broad as the current study which could explain the variance in results. Adding to this, numerous studies, including the current, do not consider socio-economic status, which previous studies investigating similar areas have found to be a key indicator of self-esteem and self-regulation. To conclude, parenting styles was found to not influence self-esteem and self-regulation levels of undergraduate students.


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  1. Supervisor approval form
  2. Consent Form
  3. Debrief Form
  4. Parental Bonding Instrument Mother
  5. Parental Bonding Instrument Father

6.0 Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale

7.0 Self-Regulation Questionnaire

Appendices 2.0



Title of Research Project:

Does parenting style influence self-esteem and self-regulation in undergraduate students? 

Brief Description of Research Project and What Participation Involves:

The research question is ‘Does parenting style influence self-esteem and self-regulation in undergraduates?’ and the type of parenting one received relates to their self-esteem levels and their ability to regulate their behaviour to achieve a desired outcome.

The rationale behind this present study is that parenting style has an important influence on social and behavioural development and this would therefore shape the way people perceive themselves and also the way they adjust their behaviour as adolescents and adults.

Participants will complete 3 questionnaires. The Parental Bonding QuestionnaireParker et al (1979), The Rosenberg self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 1965) and the Self-regulation questionnaire (Brown, Miller, &Lawendowski, 1999). The Parental Bonding Questionnaire consists of two scales care, overprotection or control with 25 item questions in total, (12 in care) and (13 in overprotection). This is a separate scale for mother and father. Participants will be instructed to measure how their parents were in the first 16 years. The Rosenberg self-esteem scale is a 10 item Likert scale where items will be responded using a 4-point scale (strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree). The Self-Regulation questionnaire is a 63 item questionnaire with a 5 point Likert scale (strongly disagree, disagree, uncertain or unsure, agree and strongly agree).

Add additional contact details here as required.

Appendices 4.0

The Parental Bonding Instrument


Please tick one box for each question according to how you remember your mother up until you were sixteen years old.


Very Moderately Moderately Very

Like Like Unlike  Unlike

1.   Spoke to me with a warm and

friendly voice  ____ ____ ____  ____

2.   Did not help me as much as I

needed  ____ ____ ____  ____

3.   Let me do those things I liked

doing  ____ ____ ____  ____

4.   Seemed emotionally cold to me

____ ____ ____  ____

5.   Appeared to understand my problems ____ ____ ____  ____

and worries.

6.   Was affectionate to me.  ____ ____ ____  ____

7.   Liked me to make my own

decisions  ____ ____ ____  ____

8.   Did not want me to grow up.   ____ ____ ____  ____

9.   Tried to control everything I did. ____ ____ ____  ____

10.  Invaded my privacy.  ____ ____ ____  ____

11.  Enjoyed talking things over   ____ ____ ____  ____

with me.

12.  Frequently smiled at me.  ____ ____ ____  ____

13.  Tended to baby me.        ____ ____ ____  ____

14.  Did not seem to understand what

I needed or wanted.   ____ ____ ____  ____

15.  Let me decide things for myself.  ____ ____ ____  ____

16.  Made me feel I wasn’t wanted.  ____ ____ ____  ____


17.  Could make me feel better when I

was upset.   ____ ____ ____  ____

18.  Did not talk with me very much.  ____ ____ ____  ____

19.  Tried to make me dependent on her.  ____ ____ ____  ____

20.  Felt I could not look after myself ____ ____ ____  ____

unless she was around.

21.  Gave me as much freedom as I

wanted.   ____ ____ ____  ____

22.  Let me go out as often as I

wanted.    ____ ____ ____  ____

23.  Was over-protective of me.    ____ ____ ____  ____

24.  Did not praise me.                  ____ ____ ____  ____

25.  Let me dress in any way I

pleased.   ____ ____ ____  ____



The Parental Bonding Instrument


Please tick one box for each question according to how you remember your father up until you were sixteen years old.


Very Moderately Moderately Very

Like Like Unlike  Unlike

1.   Spoke to me with a warm and

friendly voice  ____ ____ ____  ____

2.   Did not help me as much as I

needed  ____ ____ ____  ____

3.   Let me do those things I liked

doing  ____ ____ ____  ____

4.   Seemed emotionally cold to me

____ ____ ____  ____

5.   Appeared to understand my problems ____ ____ ____  ____

and worries.

6.   Was affectionate to me.  ____ ____ ____  ____

7.   Liked me to make my own

decisions  ____ ____ ____  ____

8.   Did not want me to grow up.   ____ ____ ____  ____

9.   Tried to control everything I did. ____ ____ ____  ____

10.  Invaded my privacy.  ____ ____ ____  ____

11.  Enjoyed talking things over   ____ ____ ____  ____

with me.

12.  Frequently smiled at me.  ____ ____ ____  ____

13.  Tended to baby me.        ____ ____ ____  ____

14.  Did not seem to understand what

I needed or wanted.   ____ ____ ____  ____

15.  Let me decide things for myself.  ____ ____ ____  ____

16.  Made me feel I wasn’t wanted.  ____ ____ ____  ____


17.  Could make me feel better when I

was upset.   ____ ____ ____  ____

18.  Did not talk with me very much.  ____ ____ ____  ____

19.  Tried to make me dependent on him.  ____ ____ ____  ____

20.  Felt I could not look after myself ____ ____ ____  ____

unless he was around.

21.  Gave me as much freedom as I

wanted.   ____ ____ ____  ____

22.  Let me go out as often as I

wanted.    ____ ____ ____  ____

23.  Was over-protective of me.    ____ ____ ____  ____

24.  Did not praise me.                  ____ ____ ____  ____

25.  Let me dress in any way I

pleased.   ____ ____ ____  ____



Appendices 6.0

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965)

The scale is a ten item Likert scale with items answered on a four-point scale – from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The original sample for which the scale was developed consisted of 5,024 High School Juniors and Seniors from 10 randomly selected schools in New York State.

Instructions: Below is a list of statements dealing with your general feelings about yourself. If you strongly agree, circle SA. If you agree with the statement, circle A.  If you disagree, circle D.  If you strongly disagree, circle SD.

1. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself. SA A D SD

2.* At times, I think I am no good at all. SA A D SD

3. I feel that I have a number of good qualities. SA A D SD

4. I am able to do things as well as most other people. SA A D SD

5.* I feel I do not have much to be proud of. SA A D SD

6.* I certainly feel useless at times. SA A D SD

7. I feel that I’m a person of worth, at least on an equal plane with others. SA A D SD

8.* I wish I could have more respect for myself. SA A D SD

9.* All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure. SA A D SD

10. I take a positive attitude toward myself. SA A D SD

Scoring: SA=3, A=2, D=1, SD=0. Items with an asterisk are reverse scored, that is, SA=0, A=1, D=2, SD=3. Sum the scores for the 10 items. The higher the score, the higher the self-esteem.

Appendices 7.0

Self-Regulation Questionnaire

Please answer the following questions by circling the response that best describes how you are. If you STRONGLY DISAGREE with a statement, circle. If you DISAGREE circle.If you are UNCERTAIN or UNSURE circle.If you AGREE circle, and if you STRONGLY AGREE circle.

There are no right or wrong answers. Work quickly and don’t think too long about your answers.

1. I usually keep track of my progress toward my goals. 1 2 3 4 5

2. My behavior is not that different from other people’s. 1 2 3 4 5

3. Others tell me that I keep on with things too long. 1 2 3 4 5

4. I doubt I could change even if I wanted to. 1 2 3 4 5

5. I have trouble making up my mind about things. 1 2 3 4 5

6. I get easily distracted from my plans. 1 2 3 4 5

7. I reward myself for progress toward my goals. 1 2 3 4 5

8. I don’t notice the effects of my actions until it’s too late. 1 2 3 4 5

9. My behavior is similar to that of my friends. 1 2 3 4 5

10. It’s hard for me to see anything helpful about changing my ways. 1 2 3 4 5

11. I am able to accomplish goals I set for myself. 1 2 3 4 5

12. I put off making decisions. 1 2 3 4 5

13. I have so many plans that it’s hard for me to focus on any one of them. 1 2 3 4 5

14. I change the way I do things when I see a problem with how things are going. 1 2 3 4 5

15. It’s hard for me to notice when I’ve Ahad enough@ (alcohol, food, sweets). 1 2 3 4 5

16. I think a lot about what other people think of me. 1 2 3 4 5

17. I am willing to consider other ways of doing things. 1 2 3 4 5

18. If I wanted to change, I am confident that I could do it. 1 2 3 4 5

19. When it comes to deciding about a change, I feel overwhelmed by the choices. 1 2 3 4 5 20. I have trouble following through with things once I’ve made up my mind to do something. 1 2 3 4 5

21. I don’t seem to learn from my mistakes. 1 2 3 4 5

22. I’m usually careful not to overdo it when working, eating, drinking. 1 2 3 4 5

23. I tend to compare myself with other people. 1 2 3 4 5

24. I enjoy a routine, and like things to stay the same. 1 2 3 4 5

25. I have sought out advice or information about changing. 1 2 3 4 5

26. I can come up with lots of ways to change, but it’s hard for me to decide which one to use. 1 2 3 4 5

27. I can stick to a plan that’s working well. 1 2 3 4 5

28. I usually only have to make a mistake one time in order to learn from it. 1 2 3 4 5

29. I don’t learn well from punishment. 1 2 3 4 5

30. I have personal standards, and try to live up to them. 1 2 3 4 5

31. I am set in my ways. 1 2 3 4 5

32. As soon as I see a problem or challenge, I start looking for possible solutions. 1 2 3 4 5

33. I have a hard time setting goals for myself. 1 2 3 4 5

34. I have a lot of willpower. 1 2 3 4 5

35. When I’m trying to change something, I pay a lot of attention to how I’m doing. 1 2 3 4 5 36. I usually judge what I’m doing by the consequences of my actions. 1 2 3 4 5

37. I don’t care if I’m different from most people. 1 2 3 4 5

38. As soon as I see things aren’t going right I want to do something about it. 1 2 3 4 5

39. There is usually more than one way to accomplish something. 1 2 3 4 5

40. I have trouble making plans to help me reach my goals. 1 2 3 4 5

41. I am able to resist temptation. 1 2 3 4 5

42. I set goals for myself and keep track of my progress. 1 2 3 4 5

43. Most of the time I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing. 1 2 3 4 5

44. I try to be like people around me. 1 2 3 4 5

45. I tend to keep doing the same thing, even when it doesn’t work. 1 2 3 4 5

46. I can usually find several different possibilities when I want to change something. 1 2 3 4 5

47. Once I have a goal, I can usually plan how to reach it. 1 2 3 4 5

48. I have rules that I stick by no matter what. 1 2 3 4 5

49. If I make a resolution to change something, I pay a lot of attention to how I’m doing. 1 2 3 4 5

50. Often I don’t notice what I’m doing until someone calls it to my attention. 1 2 3 4 5

51. I think a lot about how I’m doing. 1 2 3 4 5

52. Usually I see the need to change before others do. 1 2 3 4 5

53. I’m good at finding different ways to get what I want. 1 2 3 4 5

54. I usually think before I act. 1 2 3 4 5

55. Little problems or distractions throw me off course. 1 2 3 4 5

56. I feel bad when I don’t meet my goals. 1 2 3 4 5

57. I learn from my mistakes. 1 2 3 4 5

58. I know how I want to be. 1 2 3 4 5

59. It bothers me when things aren’t the way I want them. 1 2 3 4 5

60. I call in others for help when I need it. 1 2 3 4 5

61. Before making a decision, I consider what is likely to happen if I do one thing or another. 1 2 3 4 5

62. I give up quickly. 1 2 3 4 5

63. I usually decide to change and hope for the best. 1 2 3 4 5

[1] * Values rounded to the nearest whole number.

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