2013. Vol.4, No.3, 169-173
Published Online March 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 169
Parental Attitude Perceived by University Students as Predictors
of Subjective Well-Being and Life Satisfaction
Mehmet Engin Deniz1, Özlem Karakuş2, Zeliha Traş3, Jale Eldeleklioğlu3,
Zümra Özyeşil4, Erdal Hamarta3
1Department of Guidance and Counselling, Faculty of Education, Yildiz Technical University,
Istanbul, Turkey
2Department of Social Work, Faculty of Health Science, Selcuk University, Konya, Turkey
3Department of Guidance and Counselling, Faculty of Education, Necmettin Erbakan University,
Konya, Turkey
4Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Istanbul Arel University, Istanbul, Turkey
Received December 24th, 2012; revised January 23rd, 2013; accepted February 25th, 2013
The study aims to analyze whether parental attitudes (democratic, protective, and authoritarian) predict
subjective well-being and life satisfaction of university students. Subjects in the study were 414 students,
221 female and 193 male. Perceived Parental Attitudes Scale, Subjective Well-Being Scale and Life Sat-
isfaction Scale were used as data collection tools. Pearson product moment correlation coefficient and
multiple regression analysis were used in the analysis of data. Positive significant relationship was found
between democratic parental attitude and subjective well-being and life satisfaction scores; negative rela-
tion was found between protective and authoritarian parental attitude and subjective well-being and life
satisfaction scores (p < .001). According to regression analysis, perceived parental attitudes predict sub-
jective well-being and life satisfaction significantly
Keywords: Parental Attitude; Subjective Well-Being; Life Satisfaction
Subjective well-being is defined as individuals’ regarding
their lives as being valuable (Diener, 2000). Subjective well
being is a term related to a person’s being aware of his potential,
purpose of life and also psychological well-being which deter-
mines interpersonal relationships (Ryff & Keyes, 1995). There
are three points which determine the level of subjective well-
being: general life satisfaction, multitude of positive feelings and
scarcity of negative feelings (Myers & Diener, 1995).
Subjective well-being is the overall evaluation about how in-
dividuals regard their life in various aspects. People can make an
evaluation based on a general judgment such as the course of
their life, life satisfaction and sense of achievement; it includes a
general evaluation of an individual upon living spaces such as
school, marriage or business or their current feelings (Diener,
2000, 1984). According to this, if individuals are satisfied with
their living space and they experience more positive and less
negative feelings, it can be said that they have a high level of
subjective well-being, since it depends on the measurement of
positive feelings.
Subjective well-being consisting of three components: life
satisfaction, the presence of positive mood and the absence of
negative mood together often summarized as happiness (Ryan &
Deci, 2001). Life satisfaction reflects the sum of an indi-
vidual’s positive feelings about the quality of his life and cog-
nitive judgment about this satisfaction (Dost, 2004). Subjective
well-being and happiness are equivalent with the term life sat-
isfaction (Veenhoven, 1996; Diener, 2000; Diener, Suh, &
Lucas, 2003). In the literature, life satisfaction was defined as the
attitude towards life determined as time for work, spare time and
off-hours (Diener, 2000), compensation of basic needs and other
attainable needs at a certain extent (Bradley & Corwyn, 2004),
being well in the sense of happiness and spirits (Vara, 1999) and
positive feelings being dominant over negative feeling in daily
tasks (Aksaray, Yıldız, & Ergün, 1998).
Studies show that there is a positive significant relation be-
tween subjective well-being and life satisfaction (Petito &
Cumins, 2000; Suldo & Huebner, 2004; Dew & Hubner, 1994).
On the other hand, variables which indicate and increase general
life quality such as emotional intelligence, humor (Tümkaya,
Hamarta, Deniz, Çelik, & Aybek, 2008), self-respect (Hamarta,
2009; Huebner, Gilman, & Laughlin, 1999), happiness (Furn-
ham & Cheng, 2000), subjective well-being (Tuzgöl-Dost,
2010), problem solving (Hamarta, 2009), and coping with stress
(Deniz, 2006) were also studied. Moreover different sampling
groups such as problematic teenagers (Köker, 1991), university
students (Deniz & Yılmaz, 2004) and university academicians
(Tümkaya at el., 2008) were considered.
Family which is one of the individual, objective and social
elements (Toros, 2001) determine the quality of life satisfaction
and is placed on the basis of individual and society relation.
Parent factor which forms the family has also an important role
in determination of children’s life (Baumrind, 1980). Studies on
child-rearing attitudes of developmental psychology is based on
very old dates. Parental attitude was also mentioned in Psy-
chodynamic and Behavioral Model, Baumrind’s Classification,
and Maccoby and Martin Model (Yılmaz, 2000). The Baumrind
(1966), classification for the parental attitude as permissive,
authoritarian, and authoritative is one of the first studies. How-
ever, many studies and classifications have been made regarding
the attitudes of parents so far. In this study, only authoritarian,
democratic and protective parental attitudes were examined.
Parents who have democratic parental attitude feel sincere,
deep and unconditional affection towards child. They are sensi-
tive towards the needs and interests of the child, observe his
behavior with interest and tolerance, and permit the child to
behave autonomously. They give information about family rules
and place specific limits, yet discuss these limits with the child if
required (Baumrind, 1966). Since the child can express his
feelings and thoughts with ease, he begins to develop confidence
(Yavuzer, 2003). Parents who have that sort of attitude respect
their child’s character by giving unconditional affection and
make efforts to develop his sense of responsibility (Gökçedağ,
2001). At the same time, while they give opportunity to child to
behave autonomously and utilize them as a source whenever he
wants; they explain family rules on the other hand (Baumrind,
1966). Parents who have authoritarian parental attitude form
child’s behaviors according to social standards and expect him to
obey without questioning. They use force and punishment for
behaviors apart from these standards (Baumrind, 1966). A child
who has grown up in such an environment would feel under
pressure and since from an early age the development of
self-confidence and self-respect has been restricted (Yavuzer,
2003). Parents who have protective parental attitude are quite
cautious and have difficulty in separating from the child. Since
they bear the whole responsibility of the child they bring up
individuals who are dependent and cannot make their own de-
cisions (Parker, 1983). These children do not confront stressful
conditions all through their lives, they therefore experience
anxiety when in a stressful environment (Carducci & Zimbardo,
1995). Those which influence psycho-social development of
children are protective attitude which is defined as “overindul-
gence of children” and authoritarian attitude in which individual
rights are not respected (Eldeleklioğlu, 1996). Parental attitudes
were studied with variables which influence network of social
relations such as problem solving (Hamarta, Baltacı, Üre, &
Demirbaş, 2010), shyness (Demirbaş, 2009) and social anxiety
(Erkan, 2002). It is understood that the family environment
which is the most suitable for psycho-social development of
children and teenagers is the democratic family environment in
which there is an equality between parents and children and in
which there is a basis of both love and respect (Eldeleklioğlu,
In the light of the theoretical frame mentioned above it can be
suggested that subjective well-being and life satisfaction might
be related to given factors. However there has been no study
where parental attitude of university students is considered in
relation to subjective well-being and life satisfaction. The focus
question for this study is: Do parental attitudes significantly
predict subjective well-being and life satisfaction?
Sampling of the study consists of 414 students in total, 221
(53%) females and 193 (47%) males, who were enrolled at
Selcuk University. Age range of the participants is 17 - 26,
average age is 19.72, SS = 1.54.
Parental Attitude Scale: The first form of the Parental Attitude
Scale was developed by Kuzgun and Eldeleklioğlu (1996). This
form was later revised by Kuzgun and Eldeleklioğlu (2005).
Perceived parental attitudes are determined by 40 items, De-
mocratic (15 items), Protective (15 items) and authoritarian (10
items). The assessment is a Likert-type Scale each item is scored
between 1 and 5. Scores of Democratic, Protective and authori-
tarian attitudes are measured separately. Coefficient of internal
consistency of Democratic sub-scale is .89, stability factor is .92;
coefficient of internal consistency of Preventive/Demanding
sub-scale is .82, stability factor is .75; coefficient of internal
consistency of authoritarian sub-scale is .78, stability factor
is .79.
Subjective Well-Being Scale: In the study, data about subjec-
tive well-being were obtained using Subjective Well Being Scale
developed by Dost (2004). The scale is composed of 46 items
and includes personal judgment about living spaces and positive
or negative feeling statements. A factor analysis was carried out
to assess the validity of SWS; it was determined that SWS has 12
factors whose eigen-value is above 1. Moreover; corrected
item-total correlation of the scale was analyzed, and it was
observed that it varies between .32 and .63. On the other hand, in
order to determine distinctiveness of the test 27% over under
averages of scores which were obtained with the application of
46 item scale on 209 people was compared with t-test.
Cronbach Alpha reliability coefficient of Subjective Well
Being Scale was .93. In order to find the consistency coefficient
of the scale the scale was applied on 39 people in the study group
two times every two weeks and Pearson product moment cor-
relation coefficient was found .86 (Dost, 2004).
Life Satisfaction Scale: The Satisfaction with Life Scale
(SWLS) developed by Diener, Emmons, Larsen, and Griffin
(1985) and adapted to Turkish by Köker (1991) was used. The
SWLS measures global life satisfaction and consists of 5 items
of which the values are evaluated according to 7 scores (1 =
strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree). According to the results
of the reliability study of the scale, the test retest reliability was
r = .85 and item total correlations varied between .71 and .80.
The data of the study were collected from the students
studying at Konya Selcuk University/Turkey. The participants of
the study were informed about the aim, measures of the study
and the principles of volunteerism. The participants were in-
formed that the papers should be anonymous, but they should be
frank in order to facilitate the reliability of the study. The
measures were answered approximately in 35 minutes period.
Some of the students participated in the study had missing an-
swers on their papers, these students papers were not evaluated.
Analysis of Data
Data were analyzed with 14.0 SPSS program by using multi-
ple regression analysis and Pearson Correlation Coefficient.
Relationship between subjective well being and life satisfac-
tion which are dependent variables and parental attitude which is
predictor variable are given in Table 1.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 171
As it is seen in Table 1, there is a positive significant relation
between democratic parent attitude and subjective well being (r
= .44, r = 42; p < .001); and negative significant relation be-
tween protective parent attitude and subjective well being (r =
.26, r = .24; p < .001) and authoritarian parent attitude and
subjective well being (r = .40, r = .33 p < .01).
As it is seen in Table 2; there is a positive significant relation
between democratic mother attitude and life satisfaction (r = .35;
p < .001), between democratic father attitude and life satisfac-
tion (r = .37; p < .001), negative significant relation between
protective mother attitude and life satisfaction (r = .21; p
< .001), between authoritarian mother attitude and life satisfac-
tion (r = .31; p < .001); between protective father attitude and
life satisfaction (r = .25; p < .001), between authoritarian father
attitude and life satisfaction (r = .26; p < .001).
Perceived mother attitudes (R2 = .227, F = 40.235, p < .001)
and perceived father attitudes (R2 = .199, F = 33.980, p < .001)
of university students predict subjective well-being significantly.
Perceived mother attitudes explain 22.7% pf the variance in
subjective well-being, perceived father attitudes explain 19.9%.
When the predictors of subjective well being are considered, it
was found that democratic and authoritarian mother attitude
among perceived mother attitudes; democratic and protective
father attitude among father attitudes are significant predictors of
life satisfaction.
In Table 4, perceived mother attitudes (R2 = .143, F = 22.804,
Table 1.
Correlations between subjective well being and parental attitudes.
Sunjective well being .44*** .26*** .40*** .42*** .24*** .33***
Note: ***p < .001.
Table 2.
Correlations between life satisfaction and parental attitudes.
Life satisfaction .35*** .21*** .31*** .37*** .25*** .26***
Note: ***p < .001.
Table 3.
Explanation of well being by parental attitudes.
Dependent variable R2 F β Independent variables t
.310 Democratic mother 5.823***
.040 Protective mother .736
Well being .227 40.235***
.201 Authoritarian mother 3.139**
.348 Democratic father 6.591***
.109 Protective father 2.037*
Well being .199 33.980***
.079 Authoritarian father 1.284
Note: *p < .05, **p < .01, ***p < .001.
Table 4.
Explanation of life satisfaction by parental attitudes.
Dependent variable R2 F β Independent variables t
.267 Democratic mother 4.761***
.058 Protective mother 1.009
Life satisfaction .143 22.804***
.118 Authoritarian mother 1.755
.328 Democratic father 6.045***
.169 Protective father 3.084**
Life satisfaction .158 25.641***
.013 Authoritarian father .206
ote: **p < .01, ***p < .001.
p < .001) and perceived father attitudes (R2 = .158, F = 25.641, p
< .001) explain life satisfaction significantly. Perceived mother
attitudes explain 14.3% of the variance in life satisfaction, per-
ceived father attitudes explain 15.8% of the variance in life
satisfaction. When the predictors of life satisfaction are consid-
ered, it was found that only democratic mother attitude among
perceived mother attitudes; and democratic and protective father
attitude among father attitudes are significant predictors of life
Discussion and Recommendations
According to the findings obtained in this study, there are
significant relations between parental attitudes, subjective well
being and life satisfaction. Findings show that parental attitudes
are important variables which predict subjective well being and
life satisfaction. This finding has similarity with the findings of
Tuzgöl Dost (2006, 2010), Petito and Cummins (2000), Sastre
and Ferriere (2000) and Shek (2005). In this study the subjective
well-being of university students who perceive their parent as
democratic was higher than those students who perceive their
parents as authoritarian and preventive. Children who are
brought up in a democratic environment being loved uncondi-
tionally, presenting their emotion and thoughts freely, partici-
pating in the decisions about himself, being given responsibility
and permission to behave autonomously may enable them to
develop self-confidence (Baumrind, 1966; Gökçedağ, 2001;
Yavuzer, 2003) and this might increase their subjective
The findings of this study show that there is a positive relation
between democratic parental attitude and subjective well being
and life satisfaction, and a negative relationship between pro-
tective and authoritarian parental attitude and subjective well
being and life satisfaction. According to research, while positive
perception of family functions is related with high psychological
well being, social support from family is a significant predictor
of life satisfaction (Suldo & Huebner, 2004). This finding has
great contribution in explanation of high subjective well being of
individuals who are brought up in a democratic family envi-
ronment. Moreover active participation of individuals in the
decisions about themselves helps to enable important life satis-
faction in the sense of developing sense of responsibility and
controlling changes in his life.
The negative relation between protective father attitude and
subjective well being and life satisfaction indicates that while
university students wish their parent to support them without
interfering less, it points to the necessity that prevention shall not
be related with interference. Findings show that perceived pa-
rental attitudes are important factors in subjective well being of
individuals and attaining life satisfaction. Life satisfaction,
warm family environment are influenced by democratic attitude
towards children and family support (Saha, Huebner, Suldo, &
Valois, 2010; Young, Miller, Norton, & Hill, 1995; Leung &
Leung, 1992; Shek, 1997a; BrajšaŽganec, Šakić, & Rabo-
tegŠarić, 2004).
The similarity between American (Dew & Huebner’s, 1994)
and Chinese (Leung & Leung, 1992; Shek, 1997) sampling and
Turkish sampling as a result of this study makes us to think that
supporting the independence of teenagers in societies during
development process would contribute to their subjective well
being, development of life satisfaction and social participation
significantly. Thus, researches carried out on the fact that teen-
agers who are brought up in a supportive family environment
communicate more actively and feel more comfortable in
communicating (Joronen & Åstedt-Kurki, 2005) are supporting
the findings of the study.
In addition among the other perceived parental attitudes, it is
seen that there are important relations between perceived de-
mocratic parental attitude and life satisfaction and subjective
well being. When we consider that individuals having internal
locus of control and autonomous are coming from democratic
families (Baumrind, 1971) education, seminars and informative
studies which will enable parents to form democratic attitudes
towards their children may have important contributions. The
main restriction of the study was that it was only carried out on
university students. In this sense, in order to increase generali-
zation of the study; groups including childhood and adolescence
periods and parent sampling may have important contribution to
the study field.
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