BAUMRIND, DIANA (Social Science)


Diana Baumrind’s seminal work on research ethics and parenting styles has shaped research and practice since the 1960s. Baumrind earned her undergraduate degree from Hunter College in 1948 and her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1955. Following a postdoctoral residency at Cowell Hospital, Baumrind joined the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley, where she heads the Family Socialization and Developmental Competence Project as of 2007.


In response to Stanley Milgram’s 1963 study of obedience to authority, Baumrind published an influential commentary on research ethics (1964). Baumrind has continued to address ethical issues in research on humans through consultation with the American Psychological Association and published work. On the use of deception in research, Baumrind has emphasized multiple levels of potential harm: to the participant, to the credibility of psychology as a profession, and to society.


In 1966 Baumrind published a ground-breaking article on parenting styles, followed by a 1967 article with Allen Black examining the effects of parenting styles on girls’ and boys’ development. Baumrind’s three parenting styles involve different combinations of parental demand and control (confrontation, monitoring, consistent discipline, punishment) and responsiveness and affection (warmth, attachment, reciprocity, friendly discourse). Authoritative parents are moderately to highly demanding and highly responsive. Their children tend to be assertive, able to regulate themselves, socially responsible, and respectful to adults. Authoritarian parents are highly demanding and unresponsive to their children. Children of authoritarian parents tend to be moody, fearful of new situations, and low in self-esteem. Permissive parents are undemanding and nondirective. They are responsive to their children and avoid confrontation. Their children tend to be creative, sociable, and friendly, but may also be impulsive, aggressive, and resistant to limit setting. In 1983 Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin proposed a fourth style, unin-volved parenting. Uninvolved parents are undemanding and unresponsive, and their children may participate in deviant or high-risk behaviors.

Baumrind’s typology has formed the foundation for much research on parental socialization of children and children’s developmental outcomes. In her own work, Baumrind has examined parenting styles in parents of children of preschool age through adolescence. Outcomes that Baumrind has examined encompass academic achievement, emotion regulation, moral development, peer relations, social skills, substance abuse, and teenage sexuality. Baumrind has found authoritative parenting to be associated with better outcomes for children. This parenting style provides a model for children of care and concern for others’ needs and of confident and controlled behavior. Beginning in the late 1980s, researchers expanded Baumrind’s paradigm to families with low incomes and from diverse cultural backgrounds. Despite cultural differences in the degree of endorsement of different parenting styles and in the strength of the association of authoritative parenting with better outcomes in children, Baumrind’s typology has been largely supported.

More controversial has been Baumrind’s stance on physical punishment. While Baumrind argues that occasional, mild physical punishment may not lead to negative long-term outcomes in children when used as part of an overall authoritative parenting style, other researchers contend that parents’ greater use of physical punishment is associated with negative outcomes in children and that such use may escalate to physical abuse (Gershoff 2002b, p. 609). A point of agreement is that cultural norms regarding physical punishment influence the extent to which such punishment is perceived as harsh and is likely to have negative outcomes.

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