Abstract

The purpose of our investigation was to determine whether there was a significant relationship between parenting style and test performance in a stressful situation. Parenting styles individuals were exposed to as children impact how they respond to future stressful situations. A total of 34 Mount Holyoke College students completed the Parental Authority Questionnaire, a portion of an argument section of a LSAT, and a post-test survey. The questionnaire divided them into authoritarian/authoritative groups. These groups were randomly assigned to a stress or non-stress condition. An independent groups ANOVA indicated there were no significant main effects or interaction for parenting style or stress level. Further research should be done to examine which factors impact ones ability to deal with a stressful world.

Introduction

As a by-product of modern society, individuals are increasingly being evaluated by others to determine their ability to perform certain tasks or skills. The most common method of evaluation is the written test. Psychologically, taking a test is often a very stressful and taxing experience. This mental stress can be even more strenuous due to unintentional or deliberate stressors. Noise, time constraints, and proctors are only a few examples that can cause stress in the test-taking situation.

It is clear that individuals bring components of themselves to stressful situations. Our parents and their parenting style can influence us in many aspects of our personality. The purpose of our study is to find out if parenting style(s) have any influence upon a subjectís level of performance in a stressful environment. We also hope to identify if a specific parenting style would provide one with the ability to effectively cope with stress.
 
 

Previous Studies


Method

Participants

Materials Procedure
Results

After carefully analyzing our data, we found that there was no meaningful relationship between parenting style and test scores. Participants who reported authoritative parents received scores that were not significantly different from those participants who reported authoritarian parents. The conditions under which the participants took the exam also did not impact their performance. Those in the stress condition did not score significantly lower than those in the non-stress condition as we had hypothesized they would.

Looking at reported stress level, those in the stress environment reported significantly more stress than those in the non-stress condition. However, there was no relationship between how stressed the authoritarian group felt in either situation as compared to the authoritative group. Further, there was no interaction between the condition and the parenting style reported.
 
 

Discussion

We can conclude from our experiment that there was no significant relationship between parenting style and how an individual performs in a stressful versus a non-stressful situation. Further, there was no significant relationship between how much stress a participant reported and the scores they received on the test. Our manipulation was successful as can be seen with the significant difference in reported stress between the stress and non-stress condition. Due to the short, concise nature of the post-test evaluation that measured this variable, we have concern that it may have been influenced by demand characteristics. The participants may have been aware that they were supposed to report that they were stressed because of the nature of the manipulation.

There are many areas in which we would improve our study if we were to conduct it again. These items reflect weaknesses that we believe impacted the insignificant results.