Personality and Parenting: Exploring the Mediating Role of Transient Mood and Daily Hassles


  • The research described herein was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to Jay Belsky and Keith Crnic (MH44604).

Address correspondence to Jay Belsky, Human Development and Family Studies, 110 Henderson Building South, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.


ABSTRACT In order to explore the role that transient mood and daily hassles might play in mediating the impact of enduring personality on parenting, naturalistic home observations of mothering and fathering were conducted when firstborn sons were 15 and 21 months of age. Observationally based, behavioral ratings of mothering and fathering were related to three self-report personality scales (Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Extraversion), administered to parents when their children were 10 months of age, and to self-reports of transient mood (positive and negative) and daily hassles obtained prior to each observation of family interaction. Results indicated that (a) mothering was more consistently predicted by personality and mood/hassles than fathering; (b) Extraversion played a larger role in predicting fathering than mothering, with the reverse being true of Agreeableness; (c) Neuroticism was the most consistent predictor of men's and women's parenting; and (d) there was little support for affect-specific linkages between personality, mood/hassles, and parenting. Finally, some evidence of mediation by transient mood and daily hassles emerged, more consistently for mothers than fathers, though more strongly for fathers than mothers. These results are discussed in terms of the primacy of the role of parenting for men and women.