The Relationship Between Parent Personality And Infant Temperament

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


This study had two main purposes: first, to determine whether parent personality variables could predict the difficulty level of their infants; and second, to determine whether changes in parent adjustment level during the first four to eight months after their baby's birth were related to infant difficulty level.Middle class couples expecting their first baby completed the Comrey Personality Scales during the last two months of the pregnancy. When their babies were between four and eight months old, the couples repeated the personality inventory and filled out Carey's Infant Temperament Questionnaire, with which infants were categorized as easy, intermediate low, intermediate high, or difficult.Discriminant analysis was used to investigate the ability of parent personality variables measured before the birth of the baby to separate the easy and difficult infants. In analyses using both fathers' and mothers' variables together and mothers' variables alone, a weak discriminant function was obtained consisting primarily of the mothers' Response Bias scale, presumably a measure of social desirability response set. Infants whose mothers answered in a less socially desirable way about themselves were rated by their parents as more difficult than infants whose mothers answered in a more socially desirable direction. None of the variables believed to measure personality dimensions were meaningful predictors of infant difficulty.Parents' scores on the Comrey Emotional Stability scale, which may be viewed as a measure of general adjustment level, were subjected to a repeated measures analysis of variance with a between groups factor of difficulty level and a within groups factor of time of administration. The interaction between difficulty level and time was not significant, implying that changes in parent adjustment are not related to infant difficulty level.The power of both the discriminant analyses and the analysis of variance against a range of hypothetical alternatives was estimated to be high enough to allow confidence that these non-significant results reflect the absence of meaningful relationships.


Psychology, Clinical

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