Self-esteem and social desirability in relation to college students' retrospective perceptions of parental fairness and disciplinary practices

Psychol Rep. 1991 Aug;69(1):115-20. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1991.69.1.115.


This study examined the relationships that fathers' and mothers' interactive of disciplinary behaviors have with college students' Coopersmith Self-esteem Inventory scores, Social Desirability scale scores, and their retrospective perceptions of their parents' fairness (50 sons, 84 daughters). Sons with higher scores in self-esteem reported that their mothers were fairer, had more interest in their activities, and were less likely to use verbal put-downs (abuse). Daughters with high self-esteem reported both of their parents were more interested in their activities, used praise more often, and refrained from verbal abuse. Also, these daughters reported that their mothers were more fair and encouraged their independence more. Daughters who reported their fathers as being more strict had lower self-esteem scores. There was no evidence that spanking, grounding, scolding, or monetary rewards had any effect on children's self-esteem scores, whether these methods were used by mothers or by fathers. Both sons and daughters who perceived their parents as being more fair also saw them as being more interested, having used praise more often, and having been less likely to have used verbal abuse. Daughters were less likely to view either fathers or mothers as being more fair if they had used spanking, grounding, or scolding more, and had been over-all stricter. Sons who had less strict fathers or who had received monetary rewards from them tended to regard them as being more fair. Higher social desirability scores correlated with higher self-esteem of women. Also, women with these higher social desirability scores tended to report that both their fathers and mothers used scolding and grounding less often.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Individuation
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Personality Development*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Desirability*
  • Students / psychology*