Father’s love greatly impacts personality development

A father’s love contributes as much - and sometimes more - to a child’s development as does a mother’s love.

That is one of many findings in a new large-scale analysis of research about the power of parental rejection and acceptance in shaping our personalities as children and into adulthood.

“In our half-century of international research, we have not found any other class of experience that has as strong and consistent effect on personality and personality development as does the experience of rejection, especially by parents in childhood,” says Ronald Rohner of the University of Connecticut, who co-authored the study.
“Children and adults everywhere - regardless of differences in race, culture, and gender - tend to respond in exactly the same way when they perceived themselves to be rejected by their care givers and other attachment figures,” the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review reports.

Looking at 36 studies that involved more than 10,000 participants, Rohner and co-author Abdul Khaleque found that in response to rejection by their parents, children tend to feel more anxious and insecure, as well as more hostile and aggressive toward others, according to a Connecticut statement.

The pain of rejection - especially when it occurs over a period of time in childhood - tends to linger into adulthood, making it more difficult for adults who were rejected as children to form secure and trusting relationships with their intimate partners.
The studies are based on surveys of children and adults about their parents’ degree of acceptance or rejection during their childhood, coupled with questions about their personality dispositions.

Moreover, Rohner says, emerging evidence from the past decade of research in psychology and neuroscience is revealing that the same parts of the brain are activated when people feel rejected as are activated when they experience physical pain.

“Unlike physical pain, however, people can psychologically re-live the emotional pain of rejection over and over for years,” Rohner says.

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