Baumrind, Diana (b. 1927)

Diana Blumberg Baumrind is best known in the PARENTING and socialization literature for identifying and describing four basic parenting styles that have defined the field for researchers and practioners for more than four decades. In 1960 the psychologist Diana Baumrind joined the Institute of Human Development at the University of California, Berkeley, where she became the principal investigator for the Family Socialization and Developmental Competence Project. Baumrind has published numerous articles and book chapters on family socialization, parenting styles, developmental competence, moral development, adolescent health and risk-taking, and research ethics.

Baumrind identified and described four basic parenting styles that constitute variations in the values and practices of normal (i.e., nonabusive, non-neglectful) parents seeking to socialize and control their children. Parents, she wrote, hope their children and adolescents will have an identity grounded in both agency and communion, "validating simultaneously the interests of personal emancipation and individuation, and the claims of other individuals and mutually shared social norms" (1991, p. 747). The four parenting styles she identified involve different combinations of demandingness (confrontation, monitoring, consistent discipline, and corporal punishment) and responsiveness (warmth, friendly discourse, reciprocity, and attachment).

  1. Indulgent or permissive parents, whether they are democratic or nondirective, are more responsive than demanding. They avoid confrontation and allow self-regulation. Their children are friendly, sociable, and creative, but may also be verbally impulsive, aggressive, and resistant to limit-setting.
  2. Authoritarian parents are highly demanding, directive, and nonresponsive. They are obedience- and status-oriented, and they create well-ordered, structured environments with clearly stated rules. They are often highly intrusive, modeling aggressive modes of conflict resolution. Their children are typically moody, fearful of new situations, and low in self-esteem.
  3. Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive. They monitor behavior, impart clear standards, and are assertive without being intrusive or restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive rather than punitive. This style is generally regarded as optimal for the development of social competence, which includes assertiveness, social responsibility, self-regulation, cooperation, and respect for parents.
  4. Uninvolved parents are low in both responsiveness and demandingness. At the extremes, these parents may be rejecting-neglecting and neglectful. Their children often engage in deviant and high-risk behaviors and are vulnerable to substance abuse.

Parenting styles also differ in the extent to which they are characterized by psychological control, which involves guilt induction, withdrawal of love, or shaming that lead to both internalized and externalized problems in children and adolescents. Authoritative and authoritarian parents are equally high in behavioral control, but authoritative parents are generally low in psychological control, whereas authoritarian parents are generally high in such control.

Baumrind's best-known single work is her 1964 article, "Some Thoughts on the Ethics of Research: After Reading Milgram's 'Behavioral Study of Obedience.'" The publication of this article brought Baumrind numerous invitations to reflect on research ethics. Baumrind's work on research design, socialization, moral development, and professional ethics is unified by her belief that individual rights and responsibilities cannot be separated, her conviction that moral actions are determined "volitionally and consciously," and her assertion that "impartiality is not superior morally to enlightened partiality" (1992, p. 266).

See also: Child Development, History of the Concept of.


Barber, Brian K. 1996. "Parental Psychological Control: Revisiting a Neglected Construct." Child Development 67: 3296-3319.

Baumrind, Diana B. 1964. "Some Thoughts on the Ethics of Research: After Reading Milgram's 'Behavioral Study of Obedience.'" American Psychologist 19: 421-423.

Baumrind, Diana B. 1991. "The Influence of Parenting Style on Adolescent Competence and Substance Use. Journal of Early Adolescence 11: 56-95.

Baumrind, Diana B. 1992. "Leading an Examined Life: The Moral Dimension of Daily Conduct." In The Role of Values in Psychology and Human Development, ed. William M. Kurtines, Margarita Axmitia, and Jacob L. Gewirtz. New York: Wiley.