Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences



Major Advisor

Dr. Christy Wolfe


Throughout a lifetime, women are twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder. Several factors – biological, psychological, and social/environmental – are involved in the mechanisms of anxiety. The present study was designed with particular interest in the association between parents’ parenting styles and daughter anxiety, specifically paternal influences in correlation with how daughters cope with stress. Previous studies suggest that anxious tendencies in parents can be transferred to their children (Ballash, Leyfer, Buckley, & Woodruff-Borden, 2006). Studies have also identified three main parenting styles – authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive – which may also play a role in a child’s emotional state (Baumrind, 1967). This study explores the association between current feelings of stress and how these relate to retrospective perceptions of parenting style of each parent. Data from 95 participants (62 female) at Bellarmine University were used. Each participant was given a shortened version of the Coping with Stress Inventory (COPE; Carver, 1997), The Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item scale (GAD-7; termed “Nervous Thoughts and Behaviors Inventory”; Spitzer, Kroenke, Williams & Löwe, 2006), and the Parental Authority Questionnaire (Buri, 1991). It was hypothesized that the authoritarian parenting style would be associated with less adaptive coping strategies and higher self-reported experience of nervous thoughts and behaviors. Results showed positive associations between authoritarian scores for fathers and daughters’ self-reported levels of nervous thoughts and behaviors. Further, this association was fully mediated by maladaptive coping strategies in the female participants. Specifically, higher authoritarian scores in fathers positively predicted maladaptive coping strategies in female participants, which positively predicted their anxiety-related scores. Higher authoritative scores in fathers had the opposite effect, negatively predicting maladaptive coping strategies.