What Kind of Parent Are You?

Take the Parental Analytical Style Scale!

Posted Sep 11, 2020

TheVirtualDenise / Pixabay
Source: TheVirtualDenise / Pixabay

If you're a parent, then you know that you run into all kinds of scenarios that require all kinds of decision-making on a daily basis.

  • How much should you push to make sure that the homework is done thoroughly?
  • Can your kid have an extra cookie?
  • Can your kid have a sleepover on a school night?
  • Should you get your kid that new toy that they really want? 

And so forth. In a sense, parenting can be conceptualized largely in terms of decision-making.

In the 1960s, renowned developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind developed a model of parenting styles, suggesting that parents tend to have one dominant style of the following three: Authoritarian (which largely comes down to bossy and requiring obedience), authoritative (which focuses on collaborative decision-making with one's child), and permissive (which is pretty much caving to all requests that one's child might have). Since her original work on this topic (see Baumrind, 1967), other scholars have added an uninvolved category, which essentially corresponds to a situation in which a parent just doesn't care. 

In a recent study that came out of our lab (the New Paltz Evolutionary Psychology Lab), we examined the relationship between parenting styles and various personality traits. In doing so, we combed the literature to find up-to-date measures of these parenting styles for our research.

One of the most commonly used measures was developed by Robinson et al. (2001). Their Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire has been widely used by researchers into parenting for nearly two decades now. One problem, from our vantage point, of this measure is that it did not include the uninvolved dimension. For this reason, we used an additional measure in Shyny's (2017) Parenting Style Four-Factor Questionnaire, which included all four of the dimensions that we were interested in studying.

A problem, as we saw it, of both these measures is that they were completely Likert-scale-based. That is, participants are presented with various items related to parenting and are asked to simply rate the degree to which they agree or disagree with these statements. While such a measuring strategy is common and is not terrible, it has a liability in that it doesn't account for the fact that people filling out such a questionnaire are really very much at liberty to make themselves look as good as possible.

A way to address this problem associated with Likert scales, in general, was developed by Norm Li (2008) who developed the budget-allocation method for measuring psychological traits. Here, instead of just allowing participants to rate any items as high or low as they want, participants are given a specific amount of points in a rating budget that they can spend. So, for instance, if your budget is 100 points and you're given four options, you cannot rate each of them 100. Your ratings across the options must sum to 100. With this kind of measure, participants really need to analyze the situation and they are forced to figure out which options truly represent their priorities.

In our recent study, we developed a measure of parental styles, the Parental Analytical Styles Scale (PASS) to measure the four basic parenting styles using a budget-allocation measuring method. For the reasons described above pertaining to the benefits of the budget-allocation method of psychological measurement, we believe that this scale has benefits over the past parenting style scales that have been used. We present it in full here (as well as some guidance on scoring). If you're interested in what kind of parent you are, check it out!

The Parental Analytical Style Scale (PASS)

Using a 100-point budget allocation process, participants allocated points to indicate how much they would likely engage in one of four parental decisions (for 10 hypothetical scenarios). The Parental Analytical Style Scale (PASS) was designed to measure the variety of parenting styles ranging from authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved.

These items were given the following framing:

Imagine that you are the parent of a five-year-old child. You are only allowed 100 points to allocate to the four items within each scenario. Please indicate how likely you would be to respond in each of the following ways by allocating your 100 total points across the four options within each question. For instance, if there is one item among the four that you are 100 percent sure would characterize your actions, you can give that one 100 and the other options all 0. Or you can distribute them in any other way as long as the sum of your points within each question is 100.  

(if you want a simpler version of the process, you can think of this scale as a multiple-choice test and simply choose the option within each question that best characterizes your likely decision). 

1. The child wants an ice-cream cone yet the parent is running late for errands.

  • A. I gently tell him “no” and we head to the car. 
  • B. I tell him “Absolutely not! You are going to make us really late."
  • C. I just can’t turn down a good ice cream cone for my kid. 
  • D. I probably wouldn’t even notice the request.  

2. The child wants to stay up an hour past their bedtime, on a school night.

  • A. I explain to him that bedtime is really important so he will feel great tomorrow! So bedtime it is!
  • B. I tell him no and that’s that.
  • C. What’s one more hour!?
  • D. I’m exhausted too—I can’t even!

3. The child wants to play on the computer, but they have yet to clean up their toys in the living room.

  • A. I explain that after he cleans up his toys, he can go on the computer.
  • B. I tell him that he is not allowed to use the computer for the rest of the day because he didn’t clean up his mess.
  • C. I start the computer for him while I pick up his toys.
  • D. Those toys have been there for weeks, so it’s no big deal.

4. The child did not have any dinner, but is now asking for cookies.

  • A. I explain the importance of good nutrition and tell him no.
  • B. I tell him that he has got to be kidding! No way!
  • C. One cookie never hurt anyone!
  • D. I really don’t think it matters what my kid eats.

5. The child wants to have a friend sleep over, but we have to go on a trip at 6:00 in the morning tomorrow.

  • A. I explain that we all need to get up too early, but maybe another time.
  • B. I ask, "Why are you asking this question when you already know that the answer is no!?"
  • C. Oh, I’ll let him have fun with his friend—we’ll just have to get up super early.
  • D. As long as I don’t have to supervise or do anything.

6. The child wants the parent to buy them a toy at the grocery store.

  • A. We are here to buy groceries, but we can go toy shopping another time.
  • B. I tell her, "Absolutely not—money does not grow on trees!"
  • C. Sure, a new toy will make her happy.
  • D. As long as it keeps her out of my hair.

7. The child refuses to wear a winter jacket even though it is freezing outside.

  • A. I explain that she needs the jacket to stay warm, so she has to wear it.
  • B. I tell her that she is not leaving the house until she puts on her jacket.
  • C. Well, it’s her choice—I can bring it to her later.
  • D. If she’s cold, she’s cold.

8. The child wants $5 to play a game at the county fair. I have already spent over $100 at the fair today.

  • A. I tell her that we’ve already spent a lot of money at the fair, but that we can play a game later at home.
  • B. "Do you have any idea how much money we already spent today?! Definitely not!"
  • C. Sure, what’s five bucks?!
  • D. Why would someone bring their kids to the fair?

9. The child wants me to play a game with her at the same time that I am watching my favorite TV show.

  • A. I tell her how important this show is to me, but that I will play with her later.
  • B. I tell her that she ought to know better than to bother me during my TV time.
  • C. I tell her sure and turn off the TV.
  • D. If I ignore her enough, she’ll get the hint.

10. The child wants to paint in the carpeted living room.

  • A. I explain to her how painting is messy and tell her she can paint outside.
  • B. Absolutely not. I don’t want her messing up my carpet.
  • C. Sure, I will just put some newspaper down on the floor.
  • D. I don't care what she does, as long as it doesn't involve me. 

Scoring and Interpreting

Note: For each of these questions in the table, the four parenting styles were represented in the following order: A. Authoritative B. Authoritarian, C. Permissive, D. Uninvolved. In our research, we were able to use computer software to present these options in a random order to each participant. 

Here, you can add up your scores for each of these four categories and figure out which style (or styles) is most dominant in your efforts as a parent. If your highest total score, for instance, is for the authoritative dimension, that means that you generally have an authoritative approach to parenting. The four dimensions are, broadly, defined below so that you can get a sense of what your scores say about who you are as a parent.

  • Authoritative: As the parent, you ultimately will shape how things go, but you make a point to solicit input from your child in a collaborative manner.
  • Authoritarian: As a parent, you very much expect your child to fall in line, to obey, and to follow your word.
  • Permissive: As a parent, you're pretty lax and you generally let your child do what he or she wants, as long as no one is getting hurt.
  • Uninvolved: You are a generally uninvolved parent, not focusing your emotional energies much on your children or on the parenting process. 

Note that the journal article that includes this full scale and formal scoring instructions is found here.


Baumrind, D. (1967). Child care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 75, 43-88.

Geher, G. Di Santo, J. M., Planke, J., Durso, G., Goldstein, A., Akhmadi, F., Griffin, M., Primavera, N., Rausch, Z., Rodriguez, K., Thomson, G., & Weintraub, J. (2020). Dark Parenting: Parents Who Score as High in the Dark Triad Demonstrate Non-Authoritative Parenting Styles. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium. EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, 11, Sp. Iss (1), 116-143.

Li, N. P. (2008). Intelligent priorities: Adaptive long-and short-term mate preferences. In G. Geher, & G. Miller (Eds.), Mating intelligence: Sex, relationships, and the mind's reproductive system (pp.105-119). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Robinson, C. C., Mandleco, B., Olsen, S. F., & Hart, C. H. (2001). The Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ). In B. F. Perlmutter, J. Touliatos, & G. W. Holden (Eds.), Handbook of family measurement techniques: Vol. 3. Instruments & index (pp. 319 - 321). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Shyny, T. Y. (2017). Construction and validation of PS-FFQ (Parenting Style Four Factor Questionnaire). International Journal of Engineering Development and Research, 5, 426-437.