Sunday, November 4, 2012

Study: Parents overestimate childhood optimism and underestimate anxiety

Parents want their children to be happy.  New research by Lagattuta (2012), an associate psychology professor at UC Davis, involving more than 500 children ages 4 through 11, found that parents consistently rated their children as being less worried and more optimistic than the children rated themselves.  The researchers found that parents’ own emotions biased not only how they perceived their children’s emotions, but also the degree of discrepancy between the parent and child reports.  Children consistently provided higher ratings than their parents when reporting their worries (i.e., scared of the dark and worries about something bad happening to a family member) and lower ratings than parents when evaluating their feelings of optimism.  Hopefully awareness of this parental positivity bias may also encourage counselors to be more attuned to emotional difficulties children may be facing.

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