Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Pratt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Parental optimism may be an important parenting characteristic that influences the parenting process, along with other parent, child and social characteristics. Optimism has generated a great deal of research in social psychology, but has remained relatively unstudied in the context of parenting. Parental optimism is distinguished from personal optimism in the sense that it is the specific tendency for parents to be positive about their child’s future development. In the present study, 35 families completed a series of questionnaires concerning their 8-year-old, first-born child (17 males and 18 females). Measures included the Parent Expectations Index (the measure of parental optimism), a Child Social Adjustment Measure, a Parental Influence Measure, the Life Orientation Test and the Parenting Sense of Competence Scale. Parental optimism was found to be distinct from dispositional optimism, but significantly related to parental reports of positive child behaviour for both mothers and fathers. Higher feelings of parental optimism were positively correlated with higher perceptions of efficacy and influence for both mothers and fathers as well. Mothers of 8-year-old children from the present study and mothers of older adolescents drawn from another sample, the Futures Study (children ages l9-20) did not significantly differ in their parent optimism scores. In the present sample (parents of 8-year-old children), mothers were significantly more optimistic than fathers and they also felt as though they possessed more influence in their parenting role. As well, both mothers and fathers felt as though they actually had more influence over their daughters than their sons. Parental optimism thus appears to be an important component to feeling efficacious in one’s parenting role. Consistent with previous findings for parents of older children, it appears relatively distinct from dispositional optimism about one’s own outcomes. This factor should continue to be studied in combination with other parent, child and social factors in the exploration of parenting dynamics.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Psychology Commons