Date of Award

12-1995

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Anne McIntyre

Committee Members

Richard Saudargas, Robert Wahler, Jo Lynn Cunningham

Abstract

In this research, the relationships of parenting styles, attitudes, and child-rearing environments with children's curiosity, the relationships of parenting styles and attitudes with child-rearing environments, and the indirect relationships of parenting styles and attitudes with children's curiosity through child-rearing environments were explored. Seventy-four parent-child dyads were recruited from area day care centers. Oldest children between 3 and 6 years old were studied. Parents were administered a demographic information questionnaire, the Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment Inventory--Revised (HOME), and the Child-Rearing Practices Report (CRPR). Children were administered the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test--Revised (PPVT-R), the Complexity Task, the Preference for the Unknown Task, the Drawer Box Task, and the Curiosity Box Task. Parenting styles were characterized as authoritative vs. authoritarian, and attitudes were represented by parental affect and enjoyment of the parental role. Results indicated that no parents endorsed the authoritarian style. The somewhat authoritative parenting style, as opposed to the strongly authoritative parenting style, was associated with higher curiosity in children. Attitude alone was not related to curiosity. The strongly authoritative parenting style, as opposed to somewhat authoritative parenting style, was associated with child-rearing environments that included high stimulation of learning and exploring through materials and experiences; encouragement of maturity and autonomy; and less physical, more communication­ oriented punishment for children. The same aspects of the child-rearing environment were significantly related to children's curiosity: More positive, stimulating, autonomy- and communication-enhancing child-rearing environments were associated with higher curiosity in children. These results suggest that parenting styles and child-rearing environments make important contributions to children's curiosity, which has been demonstrated in previous research to be a useful marker for healthy adjustment and development. Future research with a longitudinal design would further elucidate the interactions among parenting styles, child-rearing environments, and children's curiosity. Using this model, researchers may identify vulnerability for developmental difficulties and may implement corrective measures in many areas of influence on a child's development. Resilience and strengths may be augmented to ensure healthy adjustment of children throughout the developmental cycle.

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