Parenting Styles – Authoritarian, Permissive or Authoritative?

INTRODUCTION – How do we become what we are? Why do we act and react as we do? Many psychologists argue over the famous ‘Nature vs. Nurture’ debate, we however, feel that becoming who we are is reliant on both. In a recent study, we investigated one side of this argument, Nurture. How do our parents’ personalities and parenting styles affect us in out youth? Does it account for much of our personality? Does it impact our Academic life, our Athletic and Family lives, and our perceptions of ourselves?

These are the kinds of questions we asked when creating our hypothesis, how do different parenting styles effect our youth, and who we become? Much research has been done on this topic, investigating the main parenting styles. Generally, researchers have concluded that there are three core types, Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative.

In others research, it is found that Authoritative parents raise the most well rounded and socially acceptable children, with the least amount of trouble. Intertwining two of these parenting styles is advised also, such as Authoritative and Authoritarian, depending on the child. If the child does not respond well to one style, it is advised to change slightly to another, as long as you are keeping in mind that both the child and the adult should have their opinions and needs clearly met.


After doing some research, we began to brain storm, what would be the basis of our study? We then decided on a survey as our best way of research. Our Independent Variable, obviously, was the parenting style. Which style does the parent represent, Authoritarian, Permissive or Authoritative? Relying on this then, was the Dependent Variable, how the children behaved, felt and thought of themselves. In our study, we were hoping to see that by changing the parenting style in small or larger ways, if the child would change, and if this would work to a larger scale and be represented in the population of our study. By using different grades of children in different stages of their lives, and by having a mix gendered survey as to get both male and female results, we began our study. First we had to set the definitions of our terms:

Authoritarian: These parents demand a lot from their child, but do not give in response. Giving orders and setting strict rules to be obeyed is common in their method. Often stereotyped as a ‘Military Style’, this technique can sometimes lead to physical abuse.

Permissive: These parents encourage their children to their fullest, but do not set limits. They emphasize creativity and feelings, although their children often feel unloved as a result of not having many restrictions. Often stereotyped as the ’Hippy Style’, these children become rebellious against their parents.

Authoritative: Often recognized as the best style, Authoritative parents set some limits for their children, but also listen and nurture them to some extent. A blend of Permissive and Authoritarian, they get the most respect out of all types. Often stereotyped as the famous ‘TV Family’ style, these children grow up to be the most well rounded and level headed.


In our study, we use a correlational approach and created a survey to aid us in our research. The survey includes questions regarding the subjects’ parent[s], their athletic achievement and cooperation, their academic achievement, their self image, family life as well as their age and gender. The questions we chose were loosely based on questions we had seen in our research, or those which we created and thought would provide useful in our study. Beginning by selecting classes randomly, we went to teachers in various subjects and grades and asked whether or not we could survey their class. We tried to keep control in receiving legitimate responses by giving the surveys in class and having the subjects hand them in a set time. Although, after disregarding a small number of surveys that were either incomplete or invalid, we were left with 60 completed papers in two days. In order to control against ‘experimenter bias’ we made sure to have all surveys be nameless. This also provided well for the confidentiality agreement between the subjects and the researchers. As for confounding variables, we tried to provide similar environments for all subjects when taking the survey, and instructed them in similar fashions so as not to somehow impact their responses in any way.


As our results came in, we realized that our hypothesis was correct. Subjects with parents who used the Authoritative style were more numerous, as well as more well rounded in the Athletic, Academic, Family and Self Image levels. In total, 73% of the subjects have Authoritative parents, 18% have Authoritarian, and a small 8% have Permissive parents. Since our survey was only on a small scale, we believe that if conducted on a wider range of subjects, of different ages, races and social classes we would find the same results only with even more pronounced difference in statistics. Total Results in Graph Format [%] [above]

General Male [top] and Female Results in Graph Format [%]
***misrepresentation in the grade 12 category, as the participants were not numerous enough to create a full sample***

In our final tally, we found that in more than half of the categories, Athletics, Academic, Family and Self Image, the adolescents parented by Authoritative parents had the best scores. For example, the grade nine females with Authoritative parents did exceptionally well compared to the opposed grade nine females with either Permissive of Authoritarian parents.


Our findings prove that our original hypothesis is supported, that parenting style does affect adolescents as they are growing up. This shows that children are very impressionable as they grow, and that a lot of harm can come to them, possibly without it being meant to. We found that it is important to support your children as much as possible, but with having set limits. A good example of this is having curfews and chores, and checking to make sure homework is done on time, while also having fun playing a family game, or going on a trip, or just going to their soccer game. As a general rule, having or being too much of one thing does not help much, it is necessary to become a blend of two things to be effective, and this is true in parenting. In our study, we found that most adolescents already have a firm basis to grow on, but there is still a smaller percentage of the population that could improve physically, mentally and emotionally. Although our research does represent and reflect what past researchers and psychologists have done, we still have reservations of our statistics. They could be improved if more subjects had been tested, and of a greater scale, possibly some subjects would still be in elementary school for a greater range of age. Also, in retrospect, our survey could have had more questions, discovering if race is a contributing factor, or social culture, or quite possibly anything else. We believe that, in the future before becoming parents, everyone should read on these styles, and choose the best one for them and their child, hopefully the one that reflected best in our study.