Personality Traits as Potential Susceptibility Markers: Differential Susceptibility to Support Among Parents


  • Support for this research was provided by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO Grant #406-11-030), and the ISSBD-JF Mentored Fellowship Program for Early Career Scholars. [Correction added on 04 April 2014, after first online publication: funding information has been added.]


In this study, we examined whether parents are differentially susceptible to support from their spouse and adolescent child depending on their personality traits, and whether differences in susceptibility to support among parents, in turn, are linked to the quality of support parents give to their children. Participants in this three-wave longitudinal study were 288 two-parent Dutch families with an adolescent child. Fathers were on average 43.9 years old (SD = 3.7 years), mothers were 41.7 years old (SD = 3.3 years), and adolescents (50% girls) were 14.5 years old (SD = 0.8 years). We found that the association between support from children toward their parents and subsequent support from parents toward their children was more pronounced for parents high on Openness, for better and for worse. Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, and Emotional Stability did not emerge as markers of differences in susceptibility. Also, parents did not differ in their susceptibility to support from their spouse, nor were differences in susceptibility found a year later when using data from a third wave. We found very modest support for differential susceptibility, only for Openness, and depending on the source of perceived support and on the timing of measurement.