Parents’ ‘egocentric bias’ makes them overestimate their kids’ happiness

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Published: August 1, 2015 7:40:08 PM

Parents are inclined to misjudge their child's happiness based on their personal feelings, claims a new study.

Parents are inclined to misjudge their child’s happiness based on their personal feelings, claims a new study.

The study attributed the discrepancies to an “egocentric bias” through which parents rely too heavily on their own feelings in assessing the happiness of the family unit as a whole.

It showed that parents of 10 and 11-year-olds consistently overestimated their child’s happiness, while those with 15 and 16-year-olds were inclined to underestimate.

Dr Belen Lopez-Perez of Plymouth University and graduate Ellie Wilson questioned a total of 357 children and adolescents from two different schools in Spain, along with their parents, and their happiness was assessed using a range of self-reporting measures and ratings.

The results showed that parents were inclined to score a child’s happiness closely in line with their own emotional feelings, whereas in fact there were notable differences in the child’s own reports.

The study showed a decline in the level of happiness in parents of adolescents.

Perez said that being unable to read children’s happiness appropriately may increase misunderstanding between parents and children or adolescents, which has been shown to have negative consequences for parent-child relationships.

The study is published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.

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