Honors Theses


Jackson Goodnight



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Honors Thesis


The term “helicopter parent” describes parents who provide extensive support with high constraint to their children with a variety of possible negative outcomes (Comstock, 2019). The present study examined the effects of intensive (i.e., “helicopter”) parenting among emerging college-aged adults by comparing evaluative and descriptive measures of intensive parenting and examining their differential associations with college students’ achievement and well-being. There were three main hypotheses of the study. First, I predicted that perceptions of parental intrusiveness, captured by an evaluative measure, would be more strongly correlated with negative outcomes (e.g., poorer grades, greater depression etc.) than would the frequency and extent of parental involvement, evaluated by a descriptive measure. Additionally, when applying a “goodness-of-fit” framework, I predicted that the association between the frequency of parental involvement (descriptive measure) and negative outcomes for emerging adults would be stronger for students who demonstrated positive academic and psychological adjustment in high school (i.e., they will perceive high levels of involvement as intrusive). Finally, I expected that helicopter parenting would exhibit many of the characteristics associated with criteria from traditional parenting domains and should subsequently be defined similarly to these conventional categories of parenting (permissive, authoritarian, authoritative). Results concluded that higher evaluative measures of helicopter parenting were associated with lower self-efficacy and lower college GPAs than descriptive measures. While students demonstrating positive academic adjustment in high school did not exhibit expected negative outcomes due to helicopter parenting, those displaying lower academic achievement in high school were associated with higher college GPAs when higher levels of parental involvement were introduced. Results of the study also indicated that evaluative measures of helicopter parenting were associated with authoritarian parenting styles while descriptive measures were correlated with authoritative and permissive domains.

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