The Effect of Helicopter Parenting on the Prosocial Behaviors of Emerging Adults

by Erin Whitesell, Miranda Batte-Futrell, Christine Cao, and Nichole Boigegrain

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Holly Schiffrin

We examined the relationship between helicopter parenting, the psychological needs of self-determination theory (i.e. autonomy, competence, and relatedness), and prosocial behaviors among emerging adults. Psychological needs satisfaction mediated the relationship between helicopter parenting and prosocial behaviors. As emerging adults perceived more helicopter parenting by their mothers or fathers, they reported less satisfaction of their psychological needs and fewer prosocial behaviors.

The Effect of Helicopter Parenting on the Prosocial Behaviors of Emerging Adults

15 Replies to “The Effect of Helicopter Parenting on the Prosocial Behaviors of Emerging Adults”

  1. You have presented a really interesting research project that confirms what I would have guessed–a correlation between helicopter parenting and frustration. What is even more intriguing is the emerging data you found suggesting that there may be some confluence between need satisfaction and altruism. I learned a lot.

  2. Interesting work. It makes sense that if people don’t feel their needs are being met, they engage in less prosocial behavior (feeling they have less to give, etc.). Linking that to helicopter parenting is an interesting addition that definitely didn’t occur to me. Thanks for making me think about this in new ways.

  3. Great job Schiffrin team! Not sure if you’ll see this, but this made me wonder if anyone has looked at the cumulative effects of helicopter parenting. It looks like the patterns are similar for both maternal and paternal helicopter parenting, but have people looked at whether the relationships are stronger if you have two helicopter parents versus just one (either maternal or paternal)? When people filled out the helicopter parenting scale did they pick which parent to answer about? Were they able to answer about both if they had two parents of different genders? Just wondering if people had started to think about the “amount” of helicopter parenting and it’s effects!

    1. Dr. Stebbins,
      We haven’t read any studies where people have examined if relationships are stronger if you have two helicopter parents versus just one…I personally would assume that the relationships would be stronger, but that is just speculation. We did have our participants answer questions about both a maternal and a paternal caregiver’s helicopter parenting behaviors, but we didn’t look at the cumulative effect of them together, just them separately. It is certainly a great idea for future research! Thank you for listening to our presentation!

  4. So proud of this team… Their long year of hard work has come together in an excellent project!

    1. Thank you, Dr. Schiffrin! It’s been a tedious, gratifying, and overall interesting experience, and I’m thankful for the opportunity of being on a research team.

    2. Dr. Schiffrin,
      Thank you!!! I am so happy to have gained all the experience I did from being on this team! It has been so much fun!

  5. Good job, you all! Would loved to have seen this presentation in person but you all did a great job of making sense of all your results.

    1. Dr. Steckler,
      We wish we could have given it in person too, but we are definitely grateful for the chance to present it online! Thank you for listening!

  6. Great job! This definitely contributes to the literature – I haven’t seen much on helicopter parenting and pro-social behavior. I am glad you mentioned looking at the three needs separately in your discussion – that was what I was wondering as you did your presentation.

    1. Thank you! From the start, there was a special interest in prosocial outcomes because we originally did not see much literature, so we were happy to get some significant findings and contribute!
      We did look at the 3 needs separately with a few more prosocial tendencies, and found maternal HP to have negative indirect effects on empathetic concern, perspective-taking, and prosocial behaviors through autonomy, and maternal and paternal HP to have negative indirect effects on empathetic concern through relatedness. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to discuss these particular findings in this presentation as these slides were intended for a presentation that had a time limit.

  7. Another interesting direction for a future project might be to examine helicopter parenting that includes same sex parenting and gender non-conforming parents 🙂 That might be a cool place to take your great project.

    1. Definitely! Great idea!!! Thank you so much for listening to our presentation and for the suggestion! We really appreciate it 🙂

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