Mothers' Ideal Positive Affect Predicts their Socialization of Children's Positive Affect

J Genet Psychol. Mar-Apr 2018;179(2):90-101. doi: 10.1080/00221325.2018.1434479. Epub 2018 Feb 26.


Parents generally want their children to be happy, but little is known about particular types of positive affect (PA) that parents want their children to experience. Tsai's (2007) affect valuation theory offers a useful framework to understand how parents' emotional goals may shape the socialization of particular types of PA (e.g., excitement vs. relaxation). Participants were 96 mothers and their 7- to 12-year-old children. Results indicated that mothers endorsed similar levels of ideal PA (IPA) for low-, moderate-, and high-arousal PA for both themselves and for their child, suggesting that mothers desire the same type of PA for their children as they want for themselves. In support of the study's main hypothesis, mothers' IPA for their children predicted specific socialization responses that would encourage that type of PA (e.g., mothers' high-arousal IPA predicted greater encouragement of their child to celebrate, whereas mothers' low-arousal IPA predicted encouragement of affection). The findings extend affect valuation theory and emotion socialization research by indicating that parents' emotional goals (i.e., IPA) for their children may contribute to their socialization of children's PA.

Keywords: Affect valuation theory; ideal affect; parental emotion socialization; parenting; positive affect regulation; positive emotions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Socialization*