Using psychological research, critically assess the influence of personality factors on well-being though the lifespan
Personality factors have consistently been investigate
A Critical review:
Parental Warmth, Control, and Involvement in Schooling: Predicting Academic Achievement among Korean American Adolescents
A model published in the late 1960’s by Baumrind (1968) stipulated that different types of parental style could influence the academic, social and psychological development of their children. The model has been revised over time, and now incorporates four parenting-style categories determined by the levels of warmth and control exerted by the parent to the child. The categories include authoritative (high warmth, firm control), authoritarian (low warmth, strict control), permissive (high warmth, low control) and rejecting/neglecting (low warmth, low control) types. Research investigating links between type and child achievement have consistently demonstrated a link between authoritative style and good achievement at school (Grade Point Average: GPA). The authors initiated the above study in order to contribute further to the existing research on parental style and child-achievement literature by investigating two predominant shortcomings they identified in the research. Firstly Kim & Rohner (2002) set out to evaluate the flexibility of the model in its application to different ethnic groups – in this particular instance Korean Americans. Its applicability to minorities appears particularly under-researched – the majority of existing research is on American Europeans, and where Asian groups have been sampled, the authors cite that socio-cultural diversity has been ignored with generally only Chinese and Japanese Asian samples included. A second shortfall within the research is stated as a lack of attention to each of the specific dimensions within each parenting style (warmth, control). From these two identified factors, the authors put forward four research questions to address: 1) extent to which academic achievement is associated with parental category 2) contribution of parental warmth versus parental control 3) extent to which parental involvement in schooling mediates between warmth / control and achievement 4) relative contribution of maternal style / paternal style to achievement. Direction of the hypotheses was not stated, and the authors can thus be seen to have been conducting a hypothesis generating exercise in regards to the general applicability of the Baumrind (1968) model to the Korean American population, and which aspects of the model best predict achievement.
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The research was conducted on Korean American youths in junior and senior American high schools with Los Angeles, who had lived in America for at least 5 months. The authors state that 90% of the sample had lived in the country for over three years, and so it could be said that this may have been better to have been one of the initial screening requirements. The factor of time spent in the country may affect issues such as ‘westernisation’ of both child and parent and so theoretically this could affect parenting styles (Korean fathers are stated within the article as being typically strict and unaffectionate), and therefore specifically stating the requirement of amount of time living in America to have been greater than three years, may have meant the sample would have been more valid. It may also have been an interesting sample to specifically compare first or second generation Korean Americans to those Koreans who have been in the country a short amount of time (e.g. <6months) would therefore have been unlikely to have westernized in that time. The sample was otherwise well mixed, with roughly equal amounts of children who spoke Korean versus English at home, and in the SES (socio-economic status) split between working-class and middle-class families. Testing was implemented across three locational setting which will mean that a good capture of the Korean population will have been possible (school, church and Korean Saturday schools.) Strength of the studies methodology can be seen in that Korean and English language questionnaires were provided and so this option would allow the most competent response that would have the least chance of being inaccurately answered due to language difficulties. Parental style was assessed via the Parental acceptance-Rejection/Control Questionnaire (PARQ/Control) with answers on a separate sheet for mother and father responses. Scoring on this decided the parental category for their parenting style. Parent involvement in schooling was determined via a 12-item scale through sub-scales of managerial involvement, encouragement for schooling, indirect involvement (based on Steinberg et al, 1992; and Chao, 1996) and lastly academic achievement through the child’s GPA. Family demographics were also taken.
Results of the study were largely unexpected in regards to the fact that 75% of Korean mothers and 73% of Korean fathers were unclassifiable in regards to the boundaries set out in Baumrind’s (1968) model, which the authors state due to the majority of Korean mothers and fathers falling within the moderate control on permissive-strictness dimension, which is not included as one of the categories. This in itself is an important finding as it raises the issue of whether the model is applicable to minority groups, possibly even to non-Americans in general. The other experimental hypotheses were answered, with findings including no difference in GPA for those raised by authoritative or permissive fathers – Baumrind’s model would have suggested better achievement for those with authoritative fathers, although authoritative and permissive fathers had better achieving offspring than those with authoritarian fathers. The analysis did however find a positive correlation between warmth of the mother and for the father to better GPA, in which maternal control also moderated. It was also found that parental schooling involvement mediated the relationship between father’s warmth and child GPA. Such results must be treated with extreme caution due to the fact that these findings are based on only 26% of the sample due to the remainder not being classifiable within the models categories. It is therefore felt that the most important finding of the study is regarding the apparent bias the model holds in relation to ethnic groups, and that the model may as a result only be applicable to American and American European populations.
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The study is as a result of the above statements found to be an important part of the literature on parenting style models based on Baumrind’s (1968) classifications. Baumrind’s cross-cultural applicability is found to be compromised in regards to some ethnic groups, in this case Korean Americans. Although some research has used Asian groups (predominantly Japanese and Chinese population samples) this piece of work demonstrates the need for more culturally founded categorization processes, due to the fact that around three-quarters of the study sample were not able to be classified. Further research in this area is therefore needed, and greater variety of enquiry into assessing parental styles could be incorporated in order to give a more accurate reflection of the parenting style. For example, this study used a single questionnaire (PARQ/Control) completed by the youth. The fact that consent was obtained from parents could have meant that children answered more favorably than they might have done if their parents had not been involved in the study. Also youth of extremely permissive parents may have been excluded from the sample if consent had not been able to be obtained from their parents. It is therefore proposed that a variety of assessment should have been used in order to ascertain parenting style – such as through interview with the parents themselves, or possibly through direct observation. From a generalisation perspective, despite good efforts from the authors to obtain a sample reflective of the Korean American population, the fact that the majority of the sample was unclassified and therefore most of the data from the sample was unusable, the remainder of the findings cannot be said to be reliable. Ethical considerations were sensitively tackled in this study – the questionnaire was available in Korean and English language options, and the sample completed the task in a variety of settings. In summary the study is found to have been well constructed from a methodological standpoint. It has been stated however that greater creativity in regards to measurement of parenting style could have been incorporated is therefore an option for future research. The authors have also picked up on a very important factor relating to the ethnic generalisability, and it may be an important start-point to understand which groups such models are actually applicable to. Due to the ever-increasing cultural-diversity of many countries, the division of a new scale is demonstrated as needed. Such work could be used constructively in schooling situations to identify pupils who may be suffering academically as a result of the parental styles they are experiencing at home. Identification may allow resolution of many problems (and subsequently may increase academic achievement) either through the school offering parenting classes, in order to show parents the effect of their behavior and how it can be translated into effects in the class room, or in cases where parents are unwilling to participate, or by offering mentoring systems to those who receive little warmth, control or direction.
Kim, K & Rohner, R (2002) ‘Parental warmth, control and involvement in schooling: Predicting academic achievement among Korean American adolescents’ Journal of cross-cultural psychology vol. 33, no. 2 pp127-140
d to determine what relationship they have within the field of wellbeing. Also, researchers have tried to conclude to what extent personality can influence wellbeing, and they have attempted to examine what personality traits are most influential within different age categories. Within wellbeing research, and as Carr (2011) states, wellbeing refers to an individual’s state of being healthy, comfortable and happy. Moreover, personality factors can refer to the personal characteristics that influence affect, cognition and behaviour (Matthews, Deary and Whiteman, 2009). These personal characteristics present themselves as personality traits. Implicit personality trait theories such as the Five-Factor Model of Personality (McCrae & Costa, 2008) suggest that an individual’s rating on such traits can provide personal strengths or weaknesses that have an influence upon wellbeing. For example, some research suggests that those who present the personality trait extraversion to a high degree, are indeed more inclined to be ‘happy’ than those who do not (Steel, Schmidt & Shultz, 2008). Additionally, these 5 personality traits are comprised of particular components that can be measured to relate to wellbeing. Research has represented that these personality traits can be particularly stable over time, yet they do have certain influences upon wellbeing aspects of cognition, health, subjective wellbeing and success in life. Furthermore, in the current field of wellbeing, there is debate to what extent personality actually influences wellbeing at different ages. Therefore this essay will investigate how personality traits influence wellbeing throughout the lifespan, and critically examine to what extent personality can be used to explain the influence upon wellbeing at different ages.
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McCrae and Costa (2008) Five-Factor Model of Personality represents five major factors that comprise the basic fundamentals of personality. Taken from other trait theories such as Cattell (1965) 16 Personality Factor Model, and Eysenck (1967) Extraversion-Stability Model, McCrae and Costa suggest that the five personality traits specified are universal, across lifespan. They consist of openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. To capture an individual’s true personality, psychological and behavioural testing and direct observation can be carried out. The Five-Factor Model also suggests subcategories that relate to one of the five traits. Much research literature has provided evidence for both stability and change within these personality traits over time (Caspi & Roberts, 1999). For example, Eysenck (1990) found that extraversion tended to be relatively stable from childhood into adulthood. Self-esteem, which could be suggested to be a part of neuroticism, was found to have strong stability (Trzeniewski et al, 2003). Costa and McCrae (2002) longitudinal and cross-sectional research found that agreeableness and conscientiousness increased with age, yet extraversion, neuroticism and openness represented a decline from late teen to the age of 30. Other research from Larson and Buss (2003) supports these findings by presenting similar findings of mean level stability of their given population over time.
More specifically, Soto (2016) investigated personality development in childhood and adolescents. Using a sample of 16,000 children and adolescents ranging from age 3 to 20, they found a curvilinear u-shaped age trend for openness, consciousness and agreeableness. This meant that these three traits decreased during young adolescence and subsequently increased as they got older. Srivastava, John, Gosling, and Potter (2003) examined personality change within adulthood. Using a sample of adults aged between 21 and 60, they found that agreeableness and conscientiousness increased over time, whereas neuroticism declined only within females over time. Additionally, Allemand, Zimprich and Hertzog (2007) explored the changes in personality in older aged participants. They found that neuroticism declined, along with openness. However, a meta-analysis of 152 studies by Roberts and Del Vecchio (2000) suggests that on average, personality consistency is still largely apparent and increases through childhood, to adulthood. They reported a peak in personality consistency at the age of 50, whereby personality becomes very stable. The above research suggests that personality is subject to change over the lifespan to a certain extent, however it can be relatively stable. Yet, how these personality stabilities and changes affect wellbeing has been widely examined in literature.
Firstly, as Izard, Libero, Putnam and Haynes (1993) highlight, two specific personality traits that can directly influence wellbeing. Neuroticism, is described as being made up of components of anxiety, hostility, self-consciousness, impulsiveness and vulnerability, and is reported to be linked with depression. For example, Roelofs, Huibers, Peeters, and Arntz (2008) found in a sample of 192 non-clinical undergraduate students, that their reported level of neuroticism subsequently correlated to their reported symptoms of depression. For wellbeing, it can be wise to assume that an individual with a high score on neuroticism as a personality trait, may in fact have a lower wellbeing. Evidence to support this is provided by Costa and McCrae (1980) who investigated the relationship between neuroticism and wellbeing. They found that neuroticism was correlated to dissatisfaction and negative affect in participants aged between 35 and 85, also providing evidence for consistency of personality traits across ages. Izard, Libero, Putnam and Haynes also highlight extraversion as having a direct influence upon wellbeing. Extraversion is described as encompassing components of warmth, activity, assertiveness, positive emotions and excitement seeking, and as Diener, Sandvik, Pavot and Fujita (1992) suggest in their findings, participants who scored more highly on levels of extraversion, reported a higher level of wellbeing. These personality traits, along with others, have been reported to affect certain aspects of wellbeing. For example, the cognitive impact these personality traits have upon participants has been reported by Anusic, Schimmack, Pinkus and Lockwood (2009). They investigated extraversion and neuroticism in relation to subjective wellbeing, which comprises aspects of life satisfaction and positive affect, and found similar findings to the above. However, they did suggest that as a whole, depression itself was a higher predictor of subjective wellbeing than neuroticism. Moreover, they also found that positive affect has a higher correlation with life satisfaction then that of extraversion, so it is clear to see that even though personality does have an influence upon wellbeing, other aspects may indeed influence wellbeing more. Nonetheless, Abbott et al (2008) used a British sample of 2,547 females to investigate the impact of extraversion and neuroticism on wellbeing at different ages. They found that from the age of 16 to 26, ratings of extraversion and neuroticism stayed relatively the same. Also, higher extraversion was again correlated to a higher wellbeing, whereas a higher neuroticism score correlated to lower wellbeing.
Additionally, personality factors have been reported to influence aspects of wellbeing in future success and health. For example, Caughlin, Huston and Houts (2000) investigated the impact of neuroticism on marriage satisfaction. They carried out a longitudinal study over 13 years starting from participants being newlyweds. They originally measured the participant’s personality traits and found that participants that scored highly on neuroticism and anxiety, were more likely to experience martial negativity and dissatisfaction. Moreover, Kelly and Conley (1987) investigated similar variables with engaged couples in the 1930’s, as a longitudinal study until the 1980’s. They again found that high levels of dissatisfaction in both men and women were correlated to a higher rating of neuroticism, which consequently led to divorce. However, to what extent neuroticism can be completely reliable for marriage dissatisfaction has been debated. For example, Karney (2001) suggests that personality only influences future success of a marriage to a small degree, and other aspects such as marital stress, have a higher effect. Other aspects of personality such as consciousness has been found to relate to positive affect and success in academic achievement (Carr, 2011). Furthermore, high conscientiousness was also related to less risk taking activities in school children (Hampson & Goldberg, 2006), as well as helping to promote positive health behaviours such as exercise and a good diet. Ozer and Benet-Martinez (2006) also found that high extraversion and conscientiousness were also related to positive health outcomes and a lowered risk of illness such as cardiovascular disease. Even though all this wealth of research suggests that personality does have an impact upon wellbeing throughout different ages, it is still not clear to what extent personality can be said to serve wellbeing. Research into twin studies has given light to this question.
Twin studies are greatly explanatory as they can compare the resemblance of personality traits between monozygotic and dizygotic siblings (Lykken, 2006). Much research has suggested that monozygotic twins are much more likely to share similar personality traits than that of dizygotic twins. For example, Riemann, Angleitner and Strelau (1997) investigated personality trait similarities in identical and non-identical twins. They found a higher genetic influence for the identical twins representations of similar personality traits, than that of the non-identical twins. Yet, there is much debate in such research that monozygotic twins might actually share such similar behavioural responses and personality traits due to their upbringing, such as caregivers treating them more similarly, giving them similar experiences and environments, compared to dizygotic twins that are recognised as different (Carr, 2011). In this case, twin studies can be used instead to investigate twins that are reared together, compared to those reared apart. Bouchard and McGue (1990) carried out the Minnesota Twin Study in which they investigated 8,000 pairs of monozygotic twins from 1936 to 1955 that were reared apart. They found around 50% similarity in personality traits for the twins, meaning around 50% of the personality traits that serve an individual could be said to be based upon genetics. This research suggests that regardless of upbringing, genetics do play an important role in personality trait representation, yet it has also left questions about what serves the other 50% of influence upon personality and still fails to explain how such an influence can affect wellbeing.
Instead, Lykken and Tellgen (1996) used a personality trait test and a wellbeing questionnaire on 5,945 twins to examine the relationship between each variable. The wellbeing questionnaire was given to 79 monozygotic and 48 dizygotic twin pairs at age 20 and age 30. They found that monozygotic twins wellbeing correlation to be significantly higher than that of the dizygotic twins over the period, and they concluded that around 50% of wellbeing is genetic. They suggested that it is more likely to predict an individual’s happiness by looking at their twin, rather than their environmental influences. This suggests that genetics do indeed have an important influence upon personality traits, which effect wellbeing consistently over a time period. Additionally, Weiss, Bates and Luciano (2008) investigated the wellbeing of 973 monozygotic and dizygotic twin pairs from the age of 16 to 40. They found a consistently similar influence of personality traits towards the wellbeing of the monozygotic twins throughout the study and suggest that personality traits are relatively stable over time, and contribute to around 50% of an individual’s wellbeing. Similarly, Røysamb, Harris, Magnus, Vittersø and Tambs (2002) investigated 5,140 Norwegian twins and found equal findings, in that 50% of the twin’s wellbeing was accounted for by genetics, and the other 50% from their environment. Nonetheless, some studies such as that by Stubbe, Posthuma, Boomsma and Geus (2005) suggest that genetics are overemphasised in previous literature, and their findings advocate that actually only around 38% of genetics can be used to explain personality trait contribution towards wellbeing, and the other 62% is due to the environment. This leads to the debate as to what else can be accounted for if genetics are not the main contributor.
Some research suggests that environmental influences may have more of an impact upon an individual’s personality, and therefore wellbeing overtime, compared to other advocates. For example, for an infant, having a secure attachment with a primary care giver may be an important forerunner to develop more positive adjustment on each of the personality traits, subsequently increasing wellbeing (Kerns, 2008). Other research such as that by Darling and Steinberg (1993) suggests that caregivers who moderate their attachment style from showing care and affection with a moderate amount of control, are more likely to promote positive adjustment within their child. Moreover, as Ozer and Benet-Martinez (2006) suggests, this childhood attachment to a caregiver can benefit as a social aid throughout adolescence and adulthood. For example, a child that has a secure attachment type will score highly on extraversion, agreeableness and openness and will be more adapted to the facilitation of the development of friendships in later life. Research into other environmental influences such as cultural differences, socio-economic status and education are also debated to have a large impact upon personality, serving wellbeing. For example, Dolan, Peasgood and White (2008) suggest that individuals who are highly extraverted might aim to achieve a higher socio-economic status, yet this has been largely reported in research to only temporarily serve wellbeing. Moreover, as Carr (2011) reports, regardless of an individual’s personality trait representation, if they suffer a negative major life event, their wellbeing is likely to decrease. Carr also reports that individuals from eastern collectivist cultures are less likely to recognise personal traits as a basis for wellbeing, and are much more influenced by interpersonal and community based components. Moreover, a further explanation for the influence upon wellbeing in regards to personality can be Lyubomirsky (2007) wellbeing set point. This theory suggests that individuals have a set point of wellbeing, which is served by at least 50% of the personality traits an individual holds. Wellbeing can then be increased by circumstantial happenings, such as winning some money, or by intentional activities, such as doing the things that individual loves. Lyubomirsky’s theory not only provides an explanation for how wellbeing and personality traits interact, but also gives a clarification for other influences that can serve wellbeing also.
To conclude, it is clear to see that there is a debate in research as to how much personality can really influence wellbeing in different ages of life. The general consensus firstly assumes that personality is stable throughout the lifespan, so an individual who scores highly on a trait in young adulthood, will still represent that trait through to older age. Research has sufficiently produced evidence to suggest that some particular personality traits influence wellbeing to a greater degree, for example neuroticism and extraversion. Yet, the previous literature does debate to what extent these personality traits can serve wellbeing, and much research does point to personality traits serving a genetic factor of influence upon wellbeing at around 50%. This therefore suggests that other factors can be as influential, and if not more influential than personality itself. Environmental factors have been regularly reported on, along with childhood experiences altering representations of personality factors. Overall, it is clear to see that to an extent, personality does have an influence upon wellbeing throughout the lifespan, yet other factors must also be accounted for to also serve wellbeing.
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