The Relationship Between Parental Personality Style And Family Functioning

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Early research in family interaction focused primarily on dyadic relationships: husband-wife or parent-child. Although the relationship between individual symptomatology and family process has continued to receive strong emphasis, current theories and research have attempted to delineate family processes in an effort to develop and refine techniques of family therapy. The present study sought to examine the relationship between parental personality style and a number of dimensions of family functioning.Thirty two-parent families currently receiving family therapy on an inpatient or outpatient basis were recruited for the study. The parents in each family completed the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory (MCMI) and the Family Assessment Device (FAD). Children over the age of ten years completed the FAD, and those over twelve years of age completed the Millon Adolescent Personality Inventory. All family members participated in a series of three videotaped family tasks. The videotaped tasks were subsequently rated by trained observers according to the Structural Family System Ratings developed at the University of Miami Spanish Family Guidance Center. Therapists also completed a brief rating form on each family.Families were classified as Dependent-Agreeable, Confident-Outgoing, or Angry-Irritable on the basis of parental personality style. It was hypothesized that considerable between group differences would emerge with the Confident-Outgoing group appearing healthiest, followed by the Dependent-Agreeable group, and subsequently the Angry-Irritable group. A series of oneway analyses of variance yielded significant differences among groups only on the variable Communication. When separated into inpatient and outpatient groups, however, significant differences were present among the personality groups on the variables Problem Solving, Communication, Affective Involvement, Affective Responsiveness, and General Functioning. Pattern analysis of mean scores supported the hypothesis that the Angry-Irritable group would appear the most pathological, but failed to show differences between the remaining personality styles. Correlations between observed and self report measures, as well as between therapist and observer ratings were generally low and nonsignificant. A family therapy model was utilized to interpret these findings, and a model for the indirect influence of parental personality style on family functioning was proposed.


Psychology, Clinical; Psychology, Personality

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