HPU Researchers: Parenting Behavior and Gender Differences Impact Child’s Adjustment to College

HIGH POINT, N.C., June 13, 2014 – Dr. Kirsten Li-Barber, assistant professor of psychology at High Point University, recently presented her research on gender differences in parenting college-aged children at the 26th Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention in San Francisco, Calif.

Li-Barber’s research, titled, “Gender Differences in Perceived Parenting Behavior and Its Relation to Adjustment to College,” examines how parents can influence their college-age child’s ability to adjust effectively to a college environment. Among other findings, the research suggests that a mother’s level of care is linked with higher GPA scores in their sons, while a father’s level of support is associated with higher levels of self-esteem and flexibility in coping with stressors in their daughters.

“Specifically in this study we focused on the degree to which parental behaviors related to warmth and caring as well as over-protective behaviors, were related to student’s perceptions of their coping flexibility, self-esteem, GPA scores in college and perceived autonomy in college,” says Li-Barber. “Our findings suggest an interesting gender-based relationship between mothers and their sons and fathers and their daughters.”

Two HPU seniors, Kaila Tuccio and Lindsay Anuzis, as well as two HPU alumni, Jacklyn Tonkovich and Christine Perry, assisted Li-Barber in co-authoring the research.

“Remaining current and actively engaged in research is an important part of being a faculty member and research mentor,” says Li-Barber. “High Point University’s continued support of undergraduate research has made it possible for me to do both. Working with undergraduate students and HPU alumni on research helps them to develop important communication skills and the confidence to effectively present their ideas to others. These are the types of experiences they will need to give them an edge in graduate schools and the workforce.”

Li-Barber’s future research endeavors will look more into the contributions of gender roles and family structure in explaining the study’s findings.

“How does being a supportive parent lead to the developing of effective coping skills? How does being overly involved or over-protective reduce a child’s ability to be flexible in their problem solving behaviors? These are a few of the questions we want to address next,” Li-Barber adds.

The Association for Psychological Science’s Annual Convention is a nationally-ranked conference that brings together psychological researchers and academics to cover a spectrum of innovative research in psychological science.

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