The dependent personality: developmental, social, and clinical perspectives

Psychol Bull. 1992 Jul;112(1):3-23. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.112.1.3.


Developmental, social, and clinical studies of dependency have produced remarkably consistent results. A review and integration of these findings allow strong conclusions to be drawn regarding the etiology and dynamics of dependency. The etiology of dependency appears to lie in overprotective, authoritarian parenting. In social settings, dependency is associated with suggestibility, conformity, compliance, interpersonal yielding, affiliative behavior, and sensitivity to interpersonal cues. Dependency predicts the onset of certain psychological disorders and follows the onset of others. It seems that the fundamental motivation of the dependent person, from which the behaviors that are exhibited in different situations are derived, is a strong desire to obtain and maintain nurturant, supportive relationships. Implications of these findings for different theoretical models of dependency are discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dependent Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Dependent Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuality
  • Infant
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Object Attachment