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Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2016, 57, 4249

DOI: 10.1111/sjop.12266

Personality and Social Psychology


Parenting styles and trait emotional intelligence in adolescence
EVANGELIA ARGYRIOU,1,2 GIORGOS BAKOYANNIS3 and SPYRIDON TANTAROS1
1

Department of Psychology, University of Athens, Athens, Greece


Department of Psychological Science, Ball State University, Muncie, IN, USA
3
Department of Biostatistics, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA
2

Argyriou, E., Bakoyannis, G. & Tantaros, S. (2016). Parenting styles and trait emotional intelligence in adolescence. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology,
57, 4249.
The existence of individual differences in trait emotional intelligence (trait EI) makes the investigation of factors that contribute to such variations critical.
Given the paucity of research in this area, the purpose of this study was the examination of the relationship between parenting styles and trait EI in an
adolescent population. The sample of our study consisted of 127 adolescents (M age = 16.4, SD = 0.96; 42.2% female) from Greek schools, 1519 years
old, who were asked to complete questionnaires of perceived parenting (Parental Authority Questionnaire PAQ) and trait EI (Trait Emotional Intelligence
QuestionnaireAdolescent Short Form TEIQueASF). The estimation of the association between parenting scores and trait EI was based on a
multivariable mixed-effects regression model. An association between parenting styles and trait EI, statistically signicant for authoritativeness (b = 0.27,
z = 3.92, p < 0.001) and marginally signicant for authoritarianism (b = 0.10, z = 1.77, p = 0.08), emerged even after controlling for a set of potential
predictors of trait EI. Additionally, statistically signicant associations of adolescents gender (b = 0.29, z = 2.37, p = 0.02) and parental education (b =
0.32, z = 2.54, p = 0.01) with trait EI were found. These ndings provide insight in the eld of trait EI antecedents and underline the potential signicance
of primary prevention programs with parents that aim to develop trait EI at a young age.
Key words: Trait emotional intelligence, parenting styles, TEIQue-ASF, PAQ, emotion, adolescence.
Evangelia Argyriou, Department of Psychology, School of Philosophy, University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis, Ilissia 157 84 Athens, Greece.
Tel: (317) 772-2103; e-mail: eargy9@gmail.com

INTRODUCTION
Trait emotional intelligence (EI) has been repeatedly identied as
a predictor of various outcomes in previous research, including
physical and psychological health, psychopathology (Davis &
Humphrey, 2012; Fernandez-Abascal & Martn-Daz, 2015;
Mikolajczak, Petrides & Hurry, 2009), academic performance,
deviant behavior, and internalizing and externalizing problems
(Cleveland, 2014; Gugliandolo, Costa, Cuzzocrea, Larcan &
Petrides, 2015; Petrides, Sangareau, Furnham & Frederickson,
2006; Santesso, Reker, Schmidt & Segalowitz, 2006). However,
little is known about the antecedents of trait EI. In this study, we
sought to ll this gap in existing literature by investigating the
potential relationship between parenting styles and adolescent
trait EI.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Although the term emotional intelligence dates back to 1960s a
more comprehensive scientic research in the eld of emotional
intelligence initiated in the 1990s (Mayer, Roberts & Barsade,
2008). One of the most prominent theoretical models for EI was
Salovey and Mayers (1990) model. Mayer and Salovey dened
EI as the ability to monitor ones own and others feelings and
emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information
to guide ones thinking and actions, based on the idea that
emotions and reasoning interact resulting in thought enhancement
(Mayer, DiPaolo & Salovey, 1990; Salovey & Mayer, 1990).
After extended research in the eld, two distinct constructs
emerged that could theoretically coexist (Austin, Parker, Petrides
& Saklofske, 2008). The rst is emotional intelligence as a
2016 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

cognitive ability (ability EI), pertaining to emotion-related abilities


and belonging to the domain of cognition, measured by problembased tests, and the second is emotional intelligence as a
personality trait (trait EI) pertaining to emotion-related behavioral
dispositions and self-perceived abilities, and belonging in the
domain of personality, measured by self-report questionnaires
(Petrides, 2011).
The subjectivity of emotional experiences and the resulting
methodological issues that limit the valid measurement of ability
EI (Brody, 2004; Matthews, Roberts & Zeidner, 2004) led
Petrides and Furnham (2001) to examine EI as a trait instead of
an ability. Subsequently, they conrmed its discriminant validity,
testing its location in the personality space, and its incremental
validity, identifying a considerable number of outcomes, which
trait EI signicantly predicted (Petrides, Pita & Kokkinaki, 2007).
The denition of trait EI, which is adopted in the present study, is
that of a constellation of emotion-related dispositions and selfperceptions located at the lower levels of personality hierarchies
(Petrides, 2011; Petrides et al., 2007). The facets comprising trait
EI, as proposed by Petrides et al. (2007) are: adaptability,
assertiveness, emotion perception, emotion expression, emotion
management, emotion regulation, impulsiveness, relationships,
self-esteem, self-motivation, social awareness, stress management,
trait empathy, trait happiness and trait optimism.

PARENTING STYLES
Human development is best understood in the context of
multilevel biopsychosocial dynamic systems (Sameroff, 2010).
Family is a component of those systems constituting the rst
and most critical context in which early socialization and,

Scand J Psychol 57 (2016)

consequently, emotional development, take place, and these


family effects on human development remain important during
childhood and adolescence (Dmitrieva, Chen, Greenberger & GilRivas, 2004; Lerner & Steinberg, 2009). Darling and Steinberg
(1993) have distinguished parenting in three dimensions: parental
goals, parenting practices and parenting styles. Parenting style is
the emotional climate in which parents raise their children and
this factor mediates the relationship between parenting practices
and developmental outcomes (Darling & Steinberg, 1993).
Baumrind (1978, 1991) has proposed three parenting styles
focusing on the normal variation of parental authority:
authoritative, authoritarian and permissive parenting style. An
authoritative parent exerts rm control, but in a supportive
manner, by enhancing verbal interaction. Authoritarian parents
exert control as well, but they discourage verbal interaction (e.g.,
give and take) and value obedience. Finally, permissive parents
do not consider themselves as responsible for shaping their
offsprings behavior and tend to yield to their childs demands
uncritically (i.e., what Macoby & Martin, 1983, later dened
as indulgent parents) or avoid responsibility for the childs
development (i.e., what Macoby & Martin, 1983 dened as
neglectful parents; Baumrind, 1978, 1991).

LINKS BETWEEN PARENTING AND TRAIT EI


While trait EIs outcomes have extensively been examined, its
antecedents have been neglected by existing literature. So far,
research has examined its heritability and the contribution of
intrinsic characteristics to its development, suggesting that there is
an amount of genetic inuence from parents (Vernon, Petrides,
Bratko & Schermer, 2008) and an important impact of
temperament (Gardner, Qualter & Whiteley, 2011). As far as
environmental factors are concerned, the results of a study
conducted by Gunkel, Schlagel, and Engle (2014) indicated a
relationship between trait EI and cultural values. However, the
contribution of parenting to trait EI has scarcely been
investigated. Alegre (2012a) revealed positive associations
between the amount of time mothers spend with their children
and various aspects of childrens trait EI. Additionally,
Gugliandolo, Costa, Cuzzocrea and Larcan (2014) showed that
parental psychological control predicts trait EI, which in turn
inuences behavior problems; however, potential effects of
positive parenting on childrens trait EI were left unexplored.
Only one study aiming to investigate directly the relationship
between parenting styles and trait EI has been conducted (Alegre,
2012b); however, in this study no statistically signicant
associations were observed. These null results should be
considered cautiously, as the response rate of the participants was
low (approximately 20% in the rst phase and 12% in the second)
which could lead to selection bias in the results, rendering the
ndings inconclusive. One review paper conducted by Alegre
(2011), suggested that there is evidence that parenting styles are
associated with various constructs tightly linked to Petrides
suggested facets of trait EI, as discussed below.
First, parenting style is related to adaptability, emotion
regulation and impulsiveness. Williams, Ciarrochi and Heaven
(2012) found that high school adolescents with authoritative
parents scored higher in their ability to appropriately adapt to
2016 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Parenting styles and trait emotional intelligence in adolescence 43


environmental demands and internal experiences in order to
achieve their goals (psychological exibility). In contrast,
adolescents with authoritarian parents demonstrated lower
psychological exibility. Furthermore, parenting styles
characterized by high responsiveness and support were
signicantly related to the access to multiple and more
advantageous emotion regulation strategies in children, such as
optimal active and support-seeking strategies (Kliewer, Fearnow
& Miller, 1996; Morris, Silk, Myers & Robinson, 2007; Valiente,
Fabes, Eisenberg & Spinrad, 2004). Moreover, authoritative
parenting correlated negatively with impulsive Internet use
(Floros & Siomos, 2013), impulsive symptoms and alcoholrelated problems, through higher levels of monitoring (PatockPeckham, King, Morgan-Lopez & Ulloa, 2011). On the other
hand, suboptimal parenting, indulgent or neglectful, has been
linked to drug use and misconduct (Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg
& Dornbusch, 1991) and emotional eating (Tophama, HubbsTaita, Rutledgea et al., 2011).
Moreover, previous research has provided evidence for the
effect of parenting style on adolescents self-esteem, selfmotivation and stress regulation. Adolescents from authoritative
homes have higher self-esteem (Milevsky, Schlechter & Netter,
2007), whereas parental authoritarianism is inversely related to
self-condence and self-conceptions (Chan & Koo, 2011;
Furnham & Cheng, 2000; Heaven & Ciarrochi, 2008; Lamborn
et al., 1991). Additionally, Padilla-Walker, Day, Dyer & Black
(2013) found that authoritative fathers tend to have offspring with
higher perseverance, persistent despite delays and obstacles, and
internal motivational sources. Regarding the ability to regulate
stress, children and adolescents from authoritative homes have
less internalized distress, unlike those from authoritarian ones
(Steinberg et al., 1994). Likewise, Sideridis and Kafetsios (2008)
found that students perceptions of their fathers parenting style
were highly related to their stress response during a class
presentation.
Additionally, adolescents who perceive their parents as
authoritative tend to have better social skills, to be more popular,
and to demonstrate more socially adaptive behavior and empathy
(Baumrind, 1991; Steinberg, Lamborn, Darling, Mounts &
Dornbusch, 1994). Alternatively, adolescents with intrusive or
overprotective parents appear to be less socially skillful and
engage in more delinquent behavior (McElhaney & Allen, 2001).
Positive parenting appears to affect friendship quality, possibly
through the development of social skills (Betts, Trueman,
Chiverton, Stanbridge & Stephens, 2013) and adolescents
competence in interpersonal relationships, including intimate
relationships (Dr
ozdz & Pokorski, 2007). Supportive and
responsive parenting has also been linked to empathy-related
responding in children and adolescents, providing evidence for the
effect of parenting on the ability to take someone elses
perspective (Eisenberg, Fabes, Schaller, Carlo & Miller, 1991;
Laible & Carlo, 2004). Furthermore, developed empathy, in part,
explains the relationship between maternal support and friendship
quality (Soenens, Duriez, Vansteenkiste & Goossens, 2007), while
the underdeveloped empathy due to permissive parenting appears
to boost antisocial behavior (Schaffer, Clark & Jeglic, 2009).
Finally, family interactions and authoritative parenting have
been associated with higher levels of happiness among children

44 E. Argyriou et al.
and adolescents (Furnham & Cheng, 2000; Holder & Coleman,
2009). Optimism seems to be affected by authoritativeness as well
and to function as a moderator of parenting, and self-esteem,
depression and university adjustment (Jackson, Pratt & Pancer,
2005).

PRESENT STUDY
The purpose of this study was to examine the potential
relationship of parenting styles with trait EI in an adolescent
population. As previously mentioned, research exploring the
association between parenting and trait EI is limited.
Nevertheless, the literature presented above, linking specic
parental practices to trait EI and parenting styles to emotional
constructs closely related to trait EI facets (e.g. emotion regulation
and self-esteem), suggests that parenting styles would
signicantly contribute to adolescents global trait EI. Since
parenting style reects parents attitudes toward the children,
which create an emotional climate, we believe that a negative/
hostile emotional climate would result in emotional reactivity and
insecurity (Morris et al., 2007), and, thus, poor emotional selfperceptions. On the other hand, a positive/consistent emotional
climate allowing free expression of emotions is expected to lead
in emotional competence (Morris et al., 2007) and, thus, strong
emotional self-perceptions. Findings suggesting that trait EI can
be improved after training (Nelis, Quoidbach, Mikolajczak &
Hansenne, 2009; Ruttledge & Petrides, 2012), providing evidence
for the exibility of this characteristic, make the investigation of
this relationship even more critical from a practical perspective.
Specically, our study aims to develop better understanding of
how parenting styles contribute to the development of trait EI,
with the long term goal of advancing our knowledge of how
parenting styles could serve as a prime intervention target to
improve trait EI and, consequently, prevent adolescent behavioral
problems or other conditions that could emerge due to poorly
developed trait EI (Gugliandolo et al., 2015).
We examined the following hypotheses: (1) Authoritative
parenting is positively related to trait EI (Milevsky, Schlechter &
Netter, 2007; Williams et al., 2012) and (2) Permissive and
authoritarian parenting is negatively related to trait EI (Furnham
& Cheng, 2000; Heaven & Ciarrochi, 2008; Milevsky et al.,
2007). In order to avoid potentially signicant confounding
issues, we adjusted for a number of characteristics that are
expected to relate to adolescents trait EI. Specically, based on
ndings that show a link between parents divorce and childrens
psychological wellbeing (Amato & Sobolewski, 2001), we
assumed that marital status plays a role in adolescent trait EI.
Furthermore, as parental education, partially indicative of the
socioeconomic status of the family, is linked to adolescent stress
coping, substance abuse (Wills, McNamara & Vaccaro, 1995),
and wellbeing (Bradley & Corwyn, 2002), it was expected that it
would contribute to adolescent trait EI as well. Regarding gender,
studies examining its effect on trait EI are inconclusive
(Gugliandolo et al., 2015; Tsaousis & Kazi, 2013); thus, we
decided to control for this effect and to evaluate its contribution to
trait EI in the current study. Additionally, given that trait EI or at
least some of its components have been found to change with age
(Derksen, Kramer & Katzko, 2002; Palmer, Manocha, Gignac &
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Scand J Psychol 57 (2016)

Stough, 2003), we assumed that adolescent trait EI would be


higher in older students. Finally, given that our sample was
selected based on cluster sampling (with the clusters
corresponding to school classes), participants of the same cluster,
namely, adolescents from the same class, are expected to be
associated. This is due to the fact that they interact on a daily
basis and, also, are exposed to some extent to the same
experiences and social/psychological stimuli. Therefore, we used
linear-mixed effects models to account for the within-class
association in our data.
To our knowledge, our study is the rst to investigate parenting
styles as an antecedent of trait EI, while also taking into account
other possible trait EI predictors. From a scientic perspective,
revealing such a relationship between parenting styles and trait EI
is crucial for the advancement of developmental science and
contributes to a more thorough understanding of the constellation
of personality traits that are inuenced by parenting styles. Also,
from a practical perspective, identifying such a relationship could
advance primary prevention programs by suggesting intervention
on parenting style in order to enhance trait EI and reduce
behavioral and psychological problems in adolescence.

METHODS
Participants
The sample consisted of 127 adolescents (47.2% females) with mean age
16.4 years (SD = 0.96 years, range = 1519) from high schools located in
Attica, Greece. The majority of the participants were Greeks (89.7%),
6.3% had Albanian ethnicity, 1.6% Greek-American, 0.8% Moldovan,
0.8% Filipino and 0.8% Korean. However, all students in this small
proportion of non-Greeks were uent Greek speakers. Forty-seven (37%)
adolescents came from the rst grade of high school, 48 (37.8%) from the
second grade and the rest 32 (25.2%) from the third grade. Sixty-seven
(40%) of the adolescents fathers and 86 (53.2%) of the adolescents
mothers had earned a bachelors or masters/doctoral degree. Most of the
parents were married (86.4%) and a small proportion were divorced
(8.8%), separated (3.1%) or widowed (1.6%). Thirty-one (24.6%) of the
participants had no siblings, 79 (62.2%) had one, 11 (8.7%) had two and
the rest (3.9%) had three siblings.

Materials
Trait EI. The Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire - Adolescent
Short Form-TEIQue-ASF (Petrides et al., 2006) was used to measure trait
EI. This self-reported measure is composed of 30 items, two for every
facet of the model, that is, adaptability, assertiveness, emotion perception,
emotion expression, emotion management, emotion regulation,
impulsiveness, relationships, self-esteem, self-motivation, social awareness,
stress management, trait empathy, trait happiness and trait optimism.
Participants are asked to respond to the degree of agreement to each item,
on a scale of 1 (completely disagree) to 7 (completely agree). Examples of
the items are: I usually nd it difcult to regulate my emotions; Im
usually able to inuence the way other people feel. The internal
consistency of the scale for the current sample was good (Cronbachs
alpha = 0.83). A Greek translation of the instrument was used, done by R.
Pita (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki) and F. Kokkinaki (Athens
University of Economics and Business) in collaboration with K. Petrides
(Petrides et al., 2007).
Parenting styles. The Parental Authority Questionnaire-PAQ was used to
measure parenting styles. It is based on the typology of Baumrind (1971)
and it assesses adolescents perceptions of parental permissiveness,

Parenting styles and trait emotional intelligence in adolescence 45

Scand J Psychol 57 (2016)


authoritarianism and authoritativeness. This questionnaire consists of 60
items, concerning both mothers and fathers parenting, in which
participants are asked to respond to the degree of their agreement to
statements scored by a ve-point Likert scale (from strongly disagree to
strongly agree). Sample items are: Even if her children didnt agree with
her, my mother felt that it was for our own good if we were forced to
conform to what she thought was right (authoritarian), My mother has
always encouraged verbal give-and-take whenever I have felt that family
rules and restrictions were unreasonable (authoritative), As I was
growing up, my mother seldom gave me expectations and guidelines for
my behavior (permissive). Both forward and backward translations were
performed in order to use the PAQ in our sample.
Due to high correlations of adolescents perceptions of their mothers
and fathers parenting styles (r > 0.55, p-values < 0.001) a combination of
the mothers and fathers parenting styles (i.e. the mean score of the two
parents) was considered for further analyses. Based on Wald tests from a
linear mixed-effects model, there was no evidence for different effects of
parenting style scores between fathers and mothers (p > 0.429 for all three
parenting style scores). As a result, for reasons of parsimony of the
multivariable model, the average score of mothers and fathers parenting
for each scale was used in order to increase statistical power. The internal
consistencies (Cronbachs alpha) of the three subscales of the combined
parenting styles in our sample were: Permissiveness = 0.59,
Authoritarianism = 0.78, Authoritativeness = 0.84.

Procedure
We selected our sample based on random cluster sampling. Random
cluster sampling is a random sampling scheme that ensures unbiasedness
of linear estimators of the corresponding population parameters (Levy,
2005). We received a list containing all high schools and the
corresponding classes from the Greek Ministry of Education. Based on
this sampling frame, we randomly selected seven classes (or clusters in
statistical sampling terminology) using the random sampling routine
available in Stata 13 (StataCorp, College Station, TX). The randomly
selected classes belonged to seven different high schools. Finally, our
sample included all students of the seven randomly selected classes
present at school the day that the questionnaires were distributed. An
approval was obtained by the Ministry of Education for the conduct of this
study in the selected schools. Subsequently, the schools authority and
teachers gave their permission for the questionnaires administration before
the start of the study. Students, after being informed about their rights, the
purpose of the study, the procedures to be undergone, and the potential
risks and benets of participation, were given the option to refuse to
participate in the study. After providing their consent to participate, they
received and completed the questionnaires in the presence of the teacher.
The study materials were completed by all students simultaneously in
class during one academic hour. The questionnaires were completed
anonymously in order for the students privacy to be protected. No
incentive was provided to the students in order to take part in the study.
The response rate was 100% with all students agreeing to participate and
to complete the questionnaires. However, 17 participants (approximately
13%) had incomplete data in some items and, thus, were excluded from
any further analysis.

Statistical analysis
Proper graphical tests (P-P plots) were used to evaluate the assumption of
a normal distribution in trait EI and parenting style scores. Also, the levels
of skewness and kurtosis of the distribution of these variables were
checked. For trait EI, the level of skewness was 0.06 and the level of
kurtosis was 0.01. For authoritativeness, the level of skewness was 0.08
and the level of kurtosis was 0.32. For authoritarianism, the level of
skewness was 0.36 and the level of kurtosis was 0.02. For permissiveness,
the level of skewness was 0.23 and the level of kurtosis was 0.11. No
signicant deviations from normality were observed. Consequently, any
further analysis was based on parametric statistical methods that are
associated with higher statistical power compared to non-parametric
methods. Specically, the bivariate associations between trait EI and each
parenting style were estimated using the Pearsons correlation coefcient.
To test the potential difference in reported parenting styles between the
two genders, we applied the Students t-test. In order to estimate the
association parameters of parenting styles with trait EI, while adjusting for
potential confounders, we applied a mixed-effects linear regression model.
In our setting, the usual linear regression was not valid because the
assumption of independent observations was violated. This is due to the
fact that adolescents from the same class interact on a daily basis and are
exposed to some extent to the same experiences and stimuli. In contrast,
the linear mixed-effects model, takes explicitly into account the potential
association between adolescents within the same class by incorporating a
class-specic random intercept in the model. An R2 measure of explained
variation for linear mixed-effects models (Xu, 2003) was also calculated.
All statistical procedures were performed using Stata 13 for windows.

RESULTS
Table 1 shows the means and standard deviations (SD) of trait EI
and parenting style scores by gender and overall. Independent
samples t-tests provided evidence that there was a statistically
signicant difference on trait EI between males and females,
t(108) = 2.27, p = 0.03, with males (M = 4.95, SD = 0.69)
receiving higher scores than females (M = 4.63, SD = 0.76) on
average. On the other hand, there was no evidence for gender
differences in self-reported parenting style scores, t(108) = 0.95,
p = 0.34, for authoritativeness, t(108) = 1.02, p = 0.31 for
authoritarianism, and t(108) = 0.17, p = 0.86, for permissiveness.
Bivariate correlations between the variables, that is, trait EI,
authoritativeness, authoritarianism and permissiveness, are
presented in Table 2. Trait EI was positively correlated with
authoritativeness, r(108) = 0.43, p < 0.001 and negatively
correlated with authoritarianism, r(108) = 0.31, p < 0.001. The
relationship between permissiveness and trait EI was not
statistically signicant, r(108) = 0.11, p = 0.27.
Results from the multivariable mixed-effects model are
presented in Table 3. The nal model explained approximately
26% of the total variability of trait EI. The results showed that

Table 1. Means, standard deviations and signicance of differences between trait EI and parenting style scores, and gender

Trait EI
Parenting styles
Authoritativeness
Authoritarianism
Permissiveness

Males
M (SD)

Females
M (SD)

Overall
M (SD)

4.95 (0.69)

4.63 (0.76)

4.81 (0.74)

35.49 (5.17)
23.77 (5.92)
29.32 (4.45)

34.55 (5.14)
22.57 (6.52)
29.46 (4.12)

35.06 (5.15)
23.23 (6.20)
29.38 (4.28)

Notes: d = Cohens effect size; *p < 0.05.


2016 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

d
2.27*

0.95
1.02
0.17

0.43
0.18
0.19
0.03

46 E. Argyriou et al.

Scand J Psychol 57 (2016)

Table 2. Correlation between trait EI and parenting styles

Trait EI
Authoritativeness
Authoritarianism
Permissiveness

Trait
EI

Authoritativeness

Authoritarianism

0.43***
1

0.31***
0.41***
1

Permissiveness
0.11
0.03
0.04
1

Note: ***p < 0.001.


Table 3. Multivariable mixed-effects model for trait EI
b

SE

R2

Authoritativeness
Authoritarianism
Permissiveness

0.27
0.10
0.08

0.07
0.06
0.07

3.92
1.77
1.05

<0.001
0.08
0.29

0.26

Gender
Male
Female

0
0.29

0.12

2.37

0.02

Postsecondary education
No
0
Yes
0.32
Age
0.04

0.13
0.07

2.54
0.52

0.01
0.61

Married parents
No
Yes
Constant

0.20
1.46

1.02
1.69

0.31
0.09

0
0.20
2.47

Notes: Postsecondary education: either father or mother or both; the


parenting style (authoritativeness, authoritarianism, permissiveness) effect
corresponds to a ve-unit increase in parenting style; the age effect
corresponds to one year increase.

authoritativeness was related to higher trait EI (b = 0.27, z = 3.92,


p < 0.001), while controlling for authoritarianism, permissiveness,
age, gender, education and marital status of the parents. The
association of authoritarianism with trait EI was marginally
signicant (b = 0.10, z = 1.77, p = 0.08), indicating a negative
association, while controlling for the rest variables of the model.
There was no evidence of an association between permissive
parenting style and trait EI (b = 0.08, z = 1.05, p = 0.29). Females
had lower trait EI on average compared to males after controlling
for covariates (b = 0.29, z = 2.37, p = 0.02). Also, adolescents
with at least one parent with postsecondary education scored
better on average on trait EI (b = 0.32, z = 2.54, p = 0.01). In
contrast, there was no evidence for a relationship between age and
marital status of the parents, and self-reported trait EI (b = 0.04,
z = 0.52, p = 0.61 and b = 0.20, z = 1.02, p = 0.31 for age and
marital status respectively).

DISCUSSION
Given the limited research on trait EIs predictors, the present
study provides the rst, to our knowledge, empirical evidence that
parenting styles are related to adolescents trait EI. Based on a
representative sample of Greek high school students that was
selected using a random cluster sampling scheme and appropriate
2016 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

statistical analyses that accounted for the potential confounders


and the association between adolescents within the same class,
we tested the hypotheses of positive association between
authoritativeness and trait EI, and negative association between
permissiveness/authoritarianism, and trait EI. In our case, the
usual linear regression was not applicable due to the violation of
the independent observations assumption caused by the potential
association between adolescents within the same class. In contrast,
the linear mixed-effects models are valid in our study since they
explicitly take into account the potential interdependence of the
observations. We found that trait EI was positively associated
with authoritative parenting, but negatively associated with
authoritarian (although the association only approached statistical
signicance). Finally, males self-reported higher levels of trait EI
on average, while adolescents coming from homes where neither
parent had completed postsecondary education tended to score
lower on the trait EI scale. There was no evidence for a
relationship between permissive parenting and trait EI.
As previously mentioned, the nal model revealed a statistically
signicant positive association between adolescents trait EI and
their perceptions of their parents as authoritative, in contrast to
Alegres study ndings (2012b), where no statistically signicant
associations were observed. We believe that the discrepancy
between our study and Alegres results is due to the following
reasons (Alegre, 2012b). First, the target population of the former
study was children 712 years old, whereas our population of
interest was adolescents 1518 years old. Since trait EI is being
shaped with age, it is possible that childrens trait EI is not formed
yet to reect parenting. Additionally, while in both our study and
Alegres, childrens ratings are used to assess trait EI, Alegre used
only mothers ratings to assess parenting style, whereas we
used adolescents ratings. Clearly, this difference in the measures
used could inuence the emerged relationship. Also, the response
rate in Alegres study was low (from the 800 mothers asked to
participate the relationship of parenting style and trait EI was
assessed in a sample of 88 mothers and 92 children), which could
potentially have resulted in selection bias. In contrast, in the
current study, we did not have response rate issues and we
adjusted for potential predictors of trait EI that could act as
confounders and affect the actual relationship under evaluation.
One further methodological asset of the present study is the
random and representative sample of the adolescent population of
a region (Attica) that encompasses the most populated and capital
city of Greece (Athens). Thus, we are condent that our results
suggest a link between positive parenting and adolescents
emotional development. While an extensive body of literature has
already identied authoritative parenting as a decisive factor in the
development of specic personality facets related to affect, such as
emotion regulation (Morris et al., 2007), self-esteem (Lamborn
et al., 1991) and social competence, our results suggest that it is a
potential signicant predictor of the global trait EI as well, at least
for the Greek adolescent population. We believe that the
combination of high levels of both psychological control and
autonomy granting that characterizes an authoritative parent
provide the base for psychological and emotional competence in
general, and trait EI in particular.
On the other hand, we propose that parents who provide high
control, but low care (where authoritarian differ from authoritative

Scand J Psychol 57 (2016)

parents) affect adolescent trait EI in a negative way, a nding in


line with that of Gugliandolo et al. (2014) study. Their results
have shown that a specic parenting practice inextricably linked
to negative parenting, namely, parental psychological control,
negatively predicts trait EI. According to our results,
authoritarianism is linked to a lower level of trait EI on average
(statistically signicant result in the univariable and marginally
signicant in the multivariable analysis). As has been suggested,
harsh discipline and constant criticism of a childs emotional
expression may lead children to a consistent effort to gain
approval from or to avoid the disapproval of the parent, rather
than to understand their own internal states and regulate them
appropriately (Williams et al., 2012). This perspective may
provide some explanation for how authoritarianism might inhibit
the development of trait EI.
Our study also supports an association of gender and parents
education with adolescent trait EI. As far as gender differences
are concerned, previous ndings are inconclusive. Our results are
consistent with Mikolajczak, Luminet, Leroy and Roys (2007)
results nding male adolescents scoring higher in global trait EI.
Gugliandolo et al. (2015) also found gender differences, with
male adolescents scoring higher on three of the four subscales of
TEIQue (i.e. self-control, sociability and well-being). Studies on
self-evaluations of performance have suggested that there is some
degree of self-report bias for males and females, in that males
tend to be more, self-enhancing and females tend to be more selfderogatory (Beyer, 1990). The observed difference, based on our
results, indicates that either males simply have higher trait EI on
average or one of the two genders perceives their performance on
emotional abilities enhanced, or tend to derogate it. Finally,
parental education related to adolescents trait EI. There is some
evidence in the literature in line with our result, as links between
socioeconomic status or parental education (a partial indicator of
the socioeconomic status) and childrens stress coping, substance
abuse and well-being have been found (Bradley & Corwyn, 2002;
Wills et al., 1995). Moreover, according to the family stress
model (Conger & Donnellan, 2007), low socioeconomic status
predicts less-than-optimal parenting through family stress. Based
on the literature, we can assume that the parents level of
education is related to the nancial level of the family (Conger,
Wallace, Sun, Simons, McLoyd & Brody, 2002). As economic
conditions have been indicated as a signicant predictor of
emotional distress of caregivers, they may be linked to disrupted
parenting practices and poor child adjustment as well (Conger
et al., 2002). As a result, the observed relationship may be due to
the association of parent education with other not measured
factors and not a result of a direct association of this variable with
adolescents trait EI.
Several limitations of our study are noteworthy. First, although
our sample was representative of the Greek adolescents
population and the random cluster-sampling scheme that we used
ensured unbiasedness of any linear estimator of the corresponding
population parameters (Levy, 2005), the number of participants
was relatively small. As a result, while larger differences could be
statistically justied given our sample size, more subtle
differences may require a larger sample to be detected. The
nding that permissiveness is not related to trait EI could either
suggest an absence of linkage between the two variables, or it
2016 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Parenting styles and trait emotional intelligence in adolescence 47


may be a result of the relatively small number of observations in
this study (potential type II error). Second, our sample was
geographically, age, and racially homogeneous. Thus, ndings
should be replicated in more diverse samples to be more condent
in the robustness of the associations. Third, the reliability of the
permissiveness scale of PAQ was relatively low. This may also
constitute a possible explanation for the absence of association
between permissiveness and trait EI. Several studies have reported
low internal consistency for the permissiveness scale (Dwairy,
2004; Tung & Yeh, 2014). This might provide some evidence
that permissiveness should be perceived as two distinct constructs,
indulgent and neglectful parenting style, as has been suggested by
several theorists (Baumrind, 1991). As a result, future research
should more thoroughly explore the role of the permissive aspect
of parenting in adolescents trait EI to form a better picture of the
reality. Forth, this study was not experimental and, consequently,
causal inferences cannot be substantiated. Specically, the
emerged relationship could be inverse, namely, adolescents trait
EI inuences parenting style. The use of a questionnaire that asks
about memories of childhood may imply that parenting preexists
the development of adolescent trait EI. However, the evidence
provided by such a questionnaire is not adequate to establish a
causal relationship. It would be of great scientic interest to
conduct a longitudinal study in order to better understand the
relationship between parenting and trait EI. Last, trait EI
and parenting styles measurement was based on self-report
questionnaires, which is prone to many kinds of response bias.
The use of questionnaires completed by both adolescents and
their parents could balance the bias coming from adolescents. The
use of a more objective measurement to measure trait EI is not
feasible, since trait EI reects emotion-related self-perceptions
(Petrides et al., 2007), unlike ability EI, which is a cognitive
ability and can be measured by performance tests. Nevertheless, it
might be of great interest for future studies to compare the impact
of parenting on both trait and ability EI.
In conclusion, the current study provides evidence for the
impact of a specic aspect of parenting, that is, parenting styles,
on adolescent trait EI, extending existing literature for its
antecedents in the family context. It seems that not only specic
parenting practices inuence adolescents emotion-related
dispositions and self-perceptions, but the emotional climate in
which parents choose to raise their children plays a signicant
role as well. Such ndings have both scientic and practical
signicance. First, they demonstrate a link between environmental
experiences of adolescents and a specic personality trait,
contributing to the advancement of developmental science.
Second, they suggest that intervention programs with a preventive
nature, targeting parents with young children, could result in a
well-shaped trait EI of the children growing to adolescents.
Additionally, since trait EI is a predictor of various outcomes
(e.g., physical and psychological health) and is not a rigid
personality trait immune to change (Nelis et al., 2009),
interventions targeting the modication of parenting styles could
play an important role in the prevention of behavioral or
psychological problems through the optimization of trait EI. Our
study provides some evidence that Ruttledge and Petrides (2012)
suggestion to include parents in interventions attempting to
improve adolescent behavioral problems through the optimization

48 E. Argyriou et al.
of trait EI, would have a positive effect and might make the
results of the intervention program more stable in time and across
various contexts. Parenting style, along with other variables, such
as temperament and cultural values, may constitute a key factor of
the mechanism through which trait EI is being shaped, and a key
target for the prevention of problems arising in socio-emotional
development. The formation of trait EI at a young age, critical
to the individuals development, could contribute to better
subsequent emotional adaptation.
We thank the two anonymous reviewers of this paper for their constructive
comments.

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Received 20 February 2015, accepted 15 October 2015